Far West a priority
Friday, 9th August, 2019
By Myles Burt
Issues concerning Aboriginal children are being further highlighted as AbSec and Kutanya take a stronger role in the Far West.
Last Monday, Menindee unveiled AbSec’s new Far West Regional Office in collaboration with National Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.
The day marked a big stepping stone for AbSec, who promised to ensure the Far West remains a priority for their organisation, given the significant service gaps in Menindee in regards to supporting Aboriginal kids and families according to AbSec CEO Tim Ireland.
“With the official office opening we’re cementing our position out here,” Mr Ireland said.
“It gives people the opportunity to have somewhere to go, have some faces who are local and some people to talk to.”
Kutanya’s Lisa Kelly is looking forward to working alongside AbSec, who will be helping Kutanya establish their own Aboriginal Child and Family Service in the Far West.
Kutanya is a provider for NSW Family and Community Services, which also host Aboriginal cultural camps to keep children connected to their culture and community.
“From those camps and those interactions that’s where we get policy issues and we feed that to ABSEC who support and push the things because they’ve got the mandate for that,” Ms Kelly said.
“They’re the peak body to push forward those issues to Government for us, because there are some emerging issues that we’re finding.”
Ms Kelly said issues that Kutanya is looking to tackle is the lack of support for Aboriginal children exiting the FACS system.
Ms Kelly said she’s eager to team up with AbSec to promote programs within FACS for children in-between 16 and 18 years that are underutilised, and develop programs that ensure children acquire foundation skills before exiting FACS. They’ll make sure children have acquired basic essentials such as a Medicare Card, Centrelink Number and have bank accounts in place for their future.
“We’re seeing there’s a lot more kids requiring that but it’s not really being accessed,” Ms Kelly said.
“They don’t care about them after they’re 16 basically, when if you’re in a normal family you’re cared for, for life.
“I think there’s real stuff to feed up with policy for youths.”
Overall, Ms Kelly said through the Kutanya cultural camps they’ve made some real change with children.
“There is a mesh of cultures but it is about gearing up our kids, growing them up strong and with a good sense of identity,” Ms Kelly said.
“If they’ve got that, a lot of issues that they face in life will become easier because they’ve got that strong sense of self.
“We’ve had some great success with some kids.
“Menindee has been central to that success too.”
The new AbSec Far West Regional Office will service communities within the region such as Wilcannia, Broken Hill, Menindee and Dareton.
Mr Ireland wanted to again acknowledge local Elder Pearl Ferguson, who opened the new building for AbSec, along with the incredible turnout from Menindee residents who came out to see the grand unveiling.
“I was just talking to some people outside, they don’t think they’ve seen an event of this size in Menindee before,” Mr Ireland said.
Community Engagement leader Daniel Fusi at Menindee Central School, said the event had been a great day with a fantastic turn out of family members and volunteers attending the celebration.
Mr Fusi said having an AbSec office and physical presence in Menindee is ideal for the local community.
“Not just offices in Sydney like most other organisations, it’s good to have one in our backyard so that’s definitely an advantage,” Mr Fusi said.