Disadvantaged Pilbara community to connect with politicians

October 30, 2014

Women from the Roebourne community walking up Jirrda Hill in preparation for a ceremony (Pic Dr Janet Kapetas)

A major research project on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal women and young children in a Pilbara town will be capped with a day of celebration on Wednesday, November 5.

Celebrate Roebourne Day has been organised by Murdoch University’s Professor Rhonda Marriott, her Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing TripleWrap Research Team and supported by Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation Limited.

“We want to bring together the Roebourne community, including all service provider groups, to celebrate all the strengths and important achievements quietly going on in Roebourne,” explained Professor Marriott.

“In small communities such as Roebourne, it is critically important that all health, educational, social and community groups work cohesively together to achieve the best outcomes for communal wellbeing.”

The event will feature 10 local people sharing a two minute story about themselves with invited guests including Professor Fiona Stanley AC, Telethon KIDS Institute, a Chief Investigator on the research project;  Hon Brendon Grylls, MLA; Hon Stephen Dawson, MLC, and other dignitaries.

The Roebourne Mothering documentary film created by Juluwarlu and Kick Up Dust Productions will also be launched.

Professor Marriott and her research team began their project, entitled Promoting positive perinatal mental health, parenting, cultural and spiritual wellbeing and resilience in Aboriginal parents in Western Australia in 2011. The project has been funded by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Indigenous grant and supported by the Telethon Kids Institute, the University of Western Australia, the Nursing and Midwifery Office at the Health Department of WA and also the Nurses Memorial Charitable Trust.

Since then they have been regular visitors to the Roebourne community working with the Yindjibarndi and Ngarluma people of the region and local agencies to create locally responsive programs that aim to contribute to the social and emotional wellbeing of grandmothers, mothers, daughters, infants and young children.

“Despite being located in the heart of the Pilbara where wealthy resource industries flourish, Roebourne has a long history of disadvantage,” said Professor Marriott.

“Our project was about listening to the concerns of Aboriginal women – particularly the older women, drawing on their experiences and providing appropriate support so that they can continue to play the important cultural and social role in their community with pride and resilience.

“We think their stories and experiences should be shared with people who have the power to make important contributions to their lives and so this is one of the reasons why we have organised the Celebrate Roebourne Day.”

Professor Marriott added that many of the women felt Roebourne had been over examined by government agencies in the last 18 months and there was concern and discomfort about the lack of feedback to the community.

“Roebourne should not be consigned to the ‘too hard’ basket,” said Professor Marriott.

“We want government services to provide appropriate support to these families but we are still in the early stages of discussions on how the local community believe this can best be achieved.

“Perhaps through hearing the stories of these community members, politicians will understand the complexities and hardships faced by the people of Roebourne on a daily basis and be inspired to work with them to assist.”

The event will take place at the new Roebourne Nyurin Cultural Centre from 9am to 1.30pm on Wednesday, November 5.

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