With special guests:
- Aaron Stuart
- Craig Hammond
We cross today to the frontline when we speak to Aaron Stuart who is the Manager of Aboriginal Projects at Centacare in Port Augusta South Australia. It is hard for many of us to imagine what it would be like to be the first person called after a suicide by one of our people. And then for it to happen again and again. Aaron is facing an endemic where the Aboriginal rate of suicide is four times greater than for non-Indigenous Australians and with children sometimes as young as 8 succumbing. Aaron provides some inspiring lessons about the positive action he is taking and tells us how he copes with the terrible stresses that go with his job.
Next we speak to Craig “Bourkie” Hammond who is the Leader Indigenous Programs, Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle. Craig is involved with a number of projects including the Nar-un-bah and Thou Walla engaging Aboriginal Fathers project. Fathering roles in the Aboriginal community extend to grandparents, uncles and older brothers. As one of eleven children himself and with a background as a youth worker Bourkie brings his skills and reputation to provide guidance and assistance in strengthening the relationship between Indigenous fathers and their children.
Aaron Stuart grew up in a remote area in the far north of South Australia. As a young boy he was told the dreamtime stories by his elders and soon realised that Aboriginal education never ends. It is a way of life that includes five pillars, namely song, dance, story, art and culture.
With this upbringing after being taught by his father and two grandfathers about his culture he was able to venture into the white man’s world. After completing his schooling he served with distinction for 18 years with the SA Police Department before joining Centacare Catholic Family Services. He has been recognised with many awards including the SA Great Commendation for Outstanding Achievements.
Now Aaron is on call 24 hours a day in counselling and saving the lives of suicidal Aboriginal people. When he cannot save those lives Aaron helps the families deal with the “sorry business”. Aaron believes the only way to prevent suicide by Aboriginal males is to do it the “Blackfella way”. Go back to the five pillars and go back to the bush maybe in one of the healing camps that he runs. Aaron has also written and produced a DVD and a book called Yudum telling the stories and filmed around Oodnadatta SA.
Our next guest is Craig “Bourkie” Hammond in Newcastle. Craig has lived and worked with Indigenous communities mainly in metropolitan and regional areas. With a background as a youth worker Bourkie has worked for almost ten years as part of the Engaging Fathers and Boys in Schools programs at the Family Action Centre.
By visiting schools and talking to the children it was found that children often do not feel able to tell their dads what are the real things they would like to do when they are together. Bourkie has used the input from these children to develop community posters which will help counteract negative portrayals of Indigenous dads in the media and promote their profile with children aged from 0 to 6.
A particular challenge for the father/child relationship is when the parent is in jail. Bourkie tells us something of the Brothers Inside Project which facilitates workshops for Aboriginal fathers in local correctional centres. This program was trialled in Cessnock Correctional Centre and has since been run in St Heliers and Kempsey Correctional Centres. The report on Brothers Inside is available on line and is filled with information and quotes.
Listeners can also access a DVD called So Now You’re a Dad and other materials produced by Craig.
Listeners to the show today will hear the real stories on the work that is being done to Close the Gap. It is a chance to pick up some of the wisdom needed for the role of Aboriginal men in growing up the next generation. This is a special show.
Song selections by our guests:
Aaron Stuart: Blue Highway by George Thorogood and The Destroyers
Craig Hammond: Love in the Morning by Archie Roach