I have been on my placement for over two weeks now, and things are starting to fall into place. I am placed in the Aboriginal homelessness/housing crisis sector and spent the first few days trying to understand the policies, legislation and complexity of the housing system. Homelessness is much more than people sleeping rough, it has a background involving trauma, mental health concerns, domestic violence, isolation and at times, policies that largely suit the dominant population in Australia.
In many Aboriginal communities, the concept of kinship and family unit is vastly different from the definition of the western family unit. People can come down to visit and stay with each other for months. For e.g. An Aboriginal family coming down from Northern Territory to their relatives in Adelaide during the summer months. This means that Aboriginal people are often at risk of losing their homes, or rentals because of overcrowding. I find this definition to be insensitive and biased against the Aboriginal communities because we have a similar system back in my home country, where a house extends its support to the extended family and community. When we say that colonisation continues to take place in Australia, it is referring to these policies which discriminate against Aboriginal communities. In my observation, I find that these matters are often hidden from the general public, who are still to learn so much more about the Aboriginal way of life. So, when the opportunity came up, I asked my supervisor whether I could attend “Closing the Gap Day” on 16th March 2023.
The event was held at the Jubilee Pavilion at Adelaide Showgrounds, a space large enough to accommodate thousands of patrons. When I reached there, I was delighted to see a large number of Aboriginal and Non-Indigenous people waiting in line to experience and support the event. When I went inside, there were hundreds of stalls with infographics, statistics and brochures on health care, aged care, disability, employment, homelessness, youth services etc. Native geckos, snakes and other reptiles were showcased to make the event interesting to a large number of school students. That view instilled hope in me for future generations as they learn more about the land on which they live in. There were also many food stalls and freebies on offer, making it a complete carnival.
I would recommend every social work student to attend such events, as it opens our eyes to the scale of work left to be done. For eg., One of the most common issues faced by the Aboriginal community today is the lack of access to adequate dental and eye care. This may sound completely unrelated to the work we do. But the more I learn, the more I find how interconnected so many of the issues are.
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MSW Student @ Flinders University