Maintaining hope and celebrating

Emerging Minds, Australia, 2019

Poverty, paucity of services and resources contribute to Aboriginal kids’ entry into care. In spite of this, Aboriginal people demonstrate incredible resilience and strength to continue to resist government interventions. Aboriginal people are creative and resourceful and generous in working with non-Aboriginal people who are willing to listen and learn.

- Social Service Practitioner

When working with Aboriginal communities you will likely encounter trauma, hurt and sadness. The reasons for this are well-documented but knowing them does not make it easier to see nor easier to work with. You are also in a privileged position to be able to contribute to improving Aboriginal health and wellbeing. How will you use this opportunity?

It is really important that where you are working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in roles that deal with the harder social and emotional issues, you are always looking for the strengths, hopes and wonders these individuals and communities have to offer.

A useful starting point is to remember that these cultures have survived and flourished on these lands for at least 60,000 years. As one practitioner stated:

Oh my God, I am in the presence of greatness, which has been shaped by Old Time, not Western time.

You will see young people doing well in education and sport because of the strengths of their families and communities. You will see grandparents that have gone through incredible hardships but are inspiring their grandchildren and leading communities. You will hear sadness and anger but also an abundance of humour and laughter, if you are willing to give the time and the attention.

Look and Listen:

  • Yes, there are many challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – but what else do you see and hear?
  • What hopes and dreams are you hearing from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

Learn and Reflect:

  • When you see the challenges that are being faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people how does that make you feel?
  • How does it influence the way you see First Nations people, their lives and experiences?
  • What does that mean for your practice?
  • What does ‘doing well’ mean to you?
  • When you see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people doing well, how does that make you feel?
  • How does it influence the way you see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their lives and experiences?
  • What does that mean for your practice?

Practice:

  • You have a wonderful opportunity to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. How will you stay hopeful and clear-minded so you can bring your best to this work?
  • In your day-to-day practice how are you working with the strengths of individuals and communities? How are you celebrating these?

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