The Australian, To The Editor, Re:Living Hard, Dying Young in the Kimberly
Rothwell highlights the suicide, alcohol, drugs, violence and self-harm crisis amongst the Indigenous community located within the Kimberley area. This is a long, complicated and continuing problem experienced in majority of Aboriginal communities throughout Australia.
To the Editor,
I am writing in response to The Australian newspaper article
'Living Hard Dying Young in the Kimberley'
By Nicholas Rothwell, Saturday 29th April 2011
As a national peak body for Indigenous languages and a board consisting of 14 Indigenous directors across the nation, the Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages and Culture Corporation (FATSILC) believe these problems are occurring due to the lack of strong cultural identity and connection between traditional culture and mainstream influences. The problems which are prominent in Aboriginal communities today have been escalating for over 200 years. The slow breakdowns of traditional language and culture have been instrumental in the escalation of drug and substance abuse, domestic violence, suicide and self-harm, as Aboriginal people have lost their strong identity in whom they are where they come from and where they are going.
FATSILC is the national peak body for community based indigenous language programs in Australia. The organisation was established in 1991 in response to the Australian Language and Literacy Policy.
It is through the individual experience of our 14 directors from throughout the nation who network directly with Indigenous communities and deal face to face with these issues.
Indigenous language centres, programs and projects are and have been functioning on the grass roots level whose purpose is to revitalise, maintain and preserve the multiple Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages and cultures of Australia.
FATSILC's position is to see Aboriginal and Torres Island languages and culture embedded in policies and procedures in all the areas of health, education, youth, justice and legal, housing, social and employment. These policies and procedures should be fully in practice and utilised when engaging Indigenous people within these service areas, not just token programs on the side.
While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and cultures are often seen and facilitated as a separate to the areas of health, education, youth, justice and legal, housing, social and employment the above 'problems' are only ever going to become more prominent in our future generations. It is a loss of strong cultural identity amongst our youth of today that we are seeing them 'losing their way' and the lack of confidence and esteem to be strong in their culture and heritage in today's society.
9th May 2011
CC: ABC Online
SBS National News
Response to 'Living hard, dying young in the Kimberly'
Published 30th, April, 2011 in The Australian