As the Aboriginal Family Support Coordinator for Southcare, I work with people on a one to one basis (case management) and through group and community development activities. My focus is to support my clients to enable them to become resourceful so that they can respond positively to current and future issues impacting on their lives. At times my work can be emotional. This is because I am working together with the client to help them to unravel and manage complex problems which may have been accumulated over generations. It’s also very rewarding when you see a steady change over time in a person’s life.
Our service in the community is funded by the Department of Local Government and Communities and the City of South Perth which funds the community development component of my role. The funding complements each other in that clients I assist with case management often become regular participants in the community activities which assists their wellbeing and connectedness. Current activities include dancing, boating, modelling, men’s group, health education and basketball.
Recently I spent some time with one of our clients; – not in the familiarity of the Southcare offices this time, but in court. I met this client many years ago, when he first came to Southcare for assistance with a practical problem; and soon after, he became a keen and helpful participant in an activities group. Now after an extended period without issue, he had violated a previous court order with what would seem a minor infraction and was facing jail time. Other than one family member and a lawyer who I met before the hearing, I was his only advocate on the day.
My client has not had the easiest start in life and like many Aboriginal people struggles with cycles of generational poverty, lack of education, unemployment, family disconnection and violence. Couple this with a man who is mechanically clever (self-taught), has worked with me in co-design to improve his living circumstances, is a polite and helpful man; and is mainly on the straight and narrow except when a difficult childhood and past seem to catch up with him.
On behalf of the client; and for the court and his legal representation, I was able to tell how he now had a home after several years of moving between extended family. This is because Southcare had advocated for him and his child to receive priority housing. He again has a part time job after the last one finished. Southcare assisted him to find this work which he enjoys as it utilises his natural skill. He is also a liked and integral member of our activities group and is building a small community within it. In all of that, he also has Southcare for mentorship, information and advocacy. The good news is that we both left court that day to go to our respective homes. There are many positive prospects in my client’s life; and there is a much for him to contribute within his family and community; and he knows that.
This is only one of the many positive stories that we can tell at Southcare about the people we assist, advocate and mentor on a daily basis in single or ongoing capacity; and the stronger communities we are building. It is a dedicated, day at a time process which is very rewarding over both the long and shorter term.
Garry Gower, Aboriginal Family Support Coordinator