No sitting back for Intergenerational AOD Action Group

"Not sitting back” was the key phrase that came out of the latest meeting of the Intergenerational Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Action Group which is being led by IWC.

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.

The first meeting was held in October, as a direct action from the Bundaberg Region Community Ice Forum held in June 2015, and the latest group meeting was held on January 18.

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.

Mr Harathunian attended the January Action Group meeting, where he spoke about the Primary Health Network (PHN) Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug Committee of which IWC is a part.

He is providing a proactive voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when planning for Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug strategies is undertaken by the committee, and is doing so in consultation with Traditional Owner / Elders in our communities.

"Mr Harathunian asked the group if they would be willing for him to attend the monthly meetings to gain the ideas and opinions of local Elders.  The group were agreeable and this session will be a regular item on the meeting agenda,” said Lee Hammond, who facilitates the group and heads the IWC AOD program.

"This action completely aligns with the key phrase that came out of the meeting, which was about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities ‘not sitting back’, but playing an active role in solution-seeking around AOD.”

The need for positive stories being circulated also was emphasised by the group, and IWC is drawing on its community sponsorship of Coral Coast Radio 94.7FM, and ongoing support from the mainstream media in our region, to deliver against this.

Ms Hammond said the group was an exciting step forward for our communities, and one that taps into the linear nature of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

"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 reflects this,” she said.

Ms Hammond is an Aboriginal social worker with more than 20 years’ experience in the area of Ice and other drugs.