An enthusiastic group from across Australia wanting to solve their community issues.
We must be rid of the welfare mentality before it’s too late
Indigenous communities face many issues, particularly those in regional and remote areas where the incidence of isolation, loneliness and depression are especially acute and welfare is causing immense problems with issues relating to health and general well-being.
Participation of the people in communities in projects that can bring health and economic benefits are generally lacking, despite the government pouring $billions to try and fix the issues. I understand more than $60,000 per person per year. Something is wrong and desperately needs to be fixed. The ‘Indigenous Industry’, keeps churning away, despite the many suggestions being put forward.
These suggestions include:
- More participation of the people in worthwhile projects.
- Reducing the welfare
- Fixing the alcohol and drug abuse problems.
- Zero tolerance of family violence.
- Introducing modern business projects that generate incomes.
- More participation in traditional cultural activities.
- Less interference and micromanagement by government bureaucrats.
- Encouragement of volunteers to lend a hand.
- Training of Indigenous health and well-being.
- Training in business start-up opportunities and basic business.
- No more research and talkfests, communities need action.
Entrepreneurial health professionals and government people are needed to address all the misconceptions about Indigenous communities and to provide more insight into more practical solutions and the activities and actions required. Various approaches are there, they just require the right people to make things happen.
Intervention practices mostly ignore the basic entrepreneurial skills indigenous people seem to have in spades. There is no one fix-all strategy that can be employed and most solutions put forward are just band-aids. Yes, many Indigenous people have demonstrated to us their many inherent entrepreneurial skills.
They speak of the need for a men’s space that can offer a safe place to re-establish a connection with their traditions and culture, as well as restoring individual and community self-esteem and respect, where they learn to access resources they might need. A more bottom-up approach, not top-down. Many have seen the men’s shed concept as an important wheel in the cog of progress.
“There needs to be a catalyst for improving the health and well-being of indigenous communities. I believe that catalyst is a men’s shed”. Peter Sergeant
More resources are not always needed if more emphasis is given to assuring community people along with public and private supporters that the use of resources and programs must be tailored to the real needs of the people, who live in the communities not the needs of outsiders.
A clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities required to maintain sustainable communities that are of value to the whole community need to be carefully designed and implemented.
Safe environments need to be created where learning and sharing of information and knowledge can take place. The convergence of at-risk communities with approaches they collectively approve of without fear of reprisals will, we believe, engage the people in more self-help programs.
For Aboriginal men, a separate men’s health area where they feel comfortable should be part of a men’s shed, men’s / space, and would be particularly beneficial.
[read more=”Personal Experience” less=”Personal Experience”]
My experience with Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities across Australia has taught me many lessons about building stronger communities of all shapes and sizes. The principal lesson is that the ‘welfare mentality’ is killing communities and the ‘get-up-and-go’ of the people who live there.
My work with indigenous people took me back to the community I was raised in, where everyone helped each other. There were no government welfare problems in those days.
In Australia, we did not always love our Indigenous people. Some still don’t. We consigned them to the fringes of our society, many are still there. For many decades our governments haven’t made much difference for many of our Indigenous communities.
I believe a first step must be to give the Indigenous people of a community hope that things can and will improve if they start taking action themselves. We have practical ways of helping the Indigenous communities, a way of improving their health and well-being, but they need to be put into gear.