Purro Birik - 34

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Purro Birik - (Healthy Spirit)



They support the concept of a Koori mental health service within the community and feel it will have significant impacts on the health outcomes for the entire community. .

Elders' Business

The elders business group of Wathaurong have specific issues and needs of their own. Advancing physical illness, isolation and loneliness, poverty and depression challenges the elders. There are Koori elders developing dementia and the elders acknowledge some difficulties with alcohol. It is important to stress that the cultural and spiritual needs of the elders are privileged and secret business and it is not appropriate to be discussed here.

These people feel the loss of the land, culture and way of life more keenly than most. They are the generation that have experienced the traditional lifestyle of Koori people and have seen that way of life progressively destroyed. The elders have had to survive radical and universal changes to their lives. They have seen and experienced the destruction of their culture, the loss of their traditional lands, and the end of their traditional way of life.

Koori elders may not be old as is often assumed by non-indigenous people. The average life expectancy of a Koori person is up to 20 years less than for other Australians. The grief and loss experienced by this group of people is difficult to comprehend and yet their first concern is for the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of their community.

The elders are considered to be the grandfathers and grandmothers of their community and their Social, Emotional and Spiritual Well-being issues are at the core of the community. When the elders speak about services for their community, they acknowledge that they would definitely benefit from having Koori mental health workers. But, more important to the elders is how the community will benefit.

The elders group gives support to the proposal to develop a community based Koori mental health team and to create a Koori place of cultural and spiritual healing. The elders believe that this is the most appropriate and effective manner to address the Social, Emotional and Spiritual Well-being needs of their community.

Youth Business

The youth of Wathaurong are confronted by many of the same issues faced by the adults and similarly, these issues are linked. Drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, violence and poor anger management, relationship issues with family and partners, parenting issues, legal/justice issues, financial difficulties and cultural issues all challenge the youth of Wathaurong. There is a clear link between the drug and alcohol issues and suicide, violence, inter-relationship conflict and legal problems.

The group spoken to, believe the best service for drug and alcohol issues would be an isolated property run by Koori people. It was also suggested this property should incorporate a work program that was designed to provide detoxification and recovery opportunities. They explained it would need to be isolated to discourage the young people from "slipping in to town for a fix".

This service could also function as a safe place for children/youths having conflict with family/partners (preferable alternative to the street), a bail address for youths with legal issues, and a place for the young people to re-discover and integrate their cultural heritage. There is more detail of this proposed service in the Appendix of the report. (Appendix 11.)


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