ABORIGINAL and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners and
Elders have come together to drive intergenerational responses to the challenge
of Ice and other drugs among the Indigenous population of Bundaberg region.
A new Intergenerational Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Action
Group has been set up, led by Bundaberg’s IWC, as a direct action from the
Bundaberg Region Community Ice Forum held on 2 June.
The work of the Action Group also will support the Wide Bay
Primary Health Network’s (PHN) Strategic
Collaborative Partnership, which is researching AOD within the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander environment in Wide Bay. The consultative process being headed
by IWC CEO Ara Harathunian, with sits on the PHN Collaborative Partnership.
"This is an exciting step forward, and one that taps into
the linear nature of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community,” said
Lee Hammond, who facilitated a workshop of local Traditional Owners and Elders on
26 October at the Blue Water Sports Club in Burnett Heads.
"In European society, there tends to be a hierarchical model
of decision-making, with someone in charge and others following. In Indigenous
Australian communities, it is a much flatter model that is based on respect for
all generations within the framework. The Action Group which the workshop
decided to set up will reflect this.”
Ms Hammond is an Aboriginal social worker with more than 20
years’ experience in the area of Ice and other drugs and heads the AOD program run
by IWC, a non-government, community-run and charitable organisation.
"Using intergenerational knowledge to seek solutions around
the issue of methamphetamines and other drugs in our region is culturally
appropriate and inclusive. Solutions to major social issues must be driven by
community consultation to succeed,” she said.
At the initial workshop, ideas around how to best tackle the
issue of Ice and other drugs came thick and fast.
"Sharing knowledge, providing stories of hope,
rehabilitation and treatment, and looking at setting up a healing, or recovery,
centre have all been put up as options to be explored,” said Ms Hammond. "What
was identified clearly as not working was people being judged around AOD, only
having services available during office hours, cutting people out of the
community – disengagement was seen as a major failing. Plus, the government funding
needs to be tailored to the community needs, rather than services having to be
shaped in line with strict government funding requirements.”
Key outcomes from the workshop, which drew 14 Bundaberg
region Traditional Owners and Elders, included a call to provide training to Action
Group members around AOD, Mental Health, peer mentorship and leadership.
"The Action Group will meet on a monthly basis, and other
Traditional Owner / Elders who could not make it to the first meeting have
expressed strong interest in being part of this exciting and ground-breaking
initiative,” said Ms Hammond. "They will work towards building the
intergenerational learning capabilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people through improved family and community connections, and creating
both written and visual resources that showcase the positive success stories
around AOD – stories of hope.”
Participants in the workshop praised the initiative, saying
it was good to work with other Indigenous people from the community who were
interested in seeing something done around Ice and other drugs.