Mount Isa Murri Men Making Momentum
Mount Isa is the traditional land of the Kalkadoon people and is one off the largest Mining Cities in the Southern Hemisphere and the largest city in the World by area. Mount Isa is located in the North West region of Queensland and is approximately 200km from the Northern Territory border.
Mount Isa’s population of 200,000 people is made up of many cultures with a large number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from Mount Isa, other communities of the North West Region and the Northern Territory living in the community. Mount Isa is considered a transient community with families travelling to and from the other communities.
Initially, informal ‘get togethers’ were held with a small group of young people from families referred to the Family Wellbeing Service and were designed to encourage engagement, build support networks and relationships, mentoring and to promote social and emotional wellbeing and inclusion for the young people. As contacts progressed, Gidgee Healing then partnered with Ngukuthati Mens Group staff and they regularly got together and planned activities and BBQs at the lake.
Each week, the group gained momentum and from these basic beginnings, internal and external partnerships were formed with Gidgee Healing’s Headspace Service’s, Clinical Lead, local youth services providers, Young People Ahead, Injilinji Youth Services and John and Jacinta Doyle’s “3 Sons Fitness” program to provide a more therapeutic approach to support not only these young people, but other young people referred with their families to Gidgee Healing Programs.
The program grew and in this case the saying, “From little things big things grow” is exactly what happened. Gidgee Healing FWS and SEWB staff now partner with other services and have formed the ‘Youth and Connecting’ Program. The program is run twice a week and is open to children, young people and their families from the community.
As another program, FWS and SEWB staff also participate in a Pilot Program facilitated by Headspace’s Clinical Lead, Marcel Noronha – The ‘Battle Won’ Program. Marcel is a qualified Exercise General Phycologist and in partnership with John and Jacinta Doyle’s ‘3 Sons Fitness’ provides counselling and general phycologist support to youth participants of the ‘Battle Won’ Program.
Marcel is not available to contribute to this article due to family reasons and we would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank Marcel for being a part of the partnerships and his work with the ‘Youth and Family’ and ‘Battle Won’ programs.
What we want to highlight in the article is that, the program started from a ‘grassroots’ approach, working holistically with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in our communities.
The Family Wellbeing Program’s aim is to provide personal support and practical support holistically to families. Starting at the grass roots level involves building trust, relationships and connections so we are able to engage with the whole family to provide our support.
WHO ARE WE? – Meet the men who are making momentum
I am Brodie Germaine, 22 years of age and born and bred in Mount Isa. I did all of my schooling in Mount Isa, but graduated at Ignatius Park College, Townsville. I am a proud Wakaya man (Cammooweal/Northern Territory area) through my grandfather and proud Pitta-Pitta man (Bouila/Dajarra) through my grandmother. I have worked at Gidgee Healing for 3 years now, starting off as a Deadly Choices Tobacco Action Officer and now a Family Support Worker in the Family Wellbeing Service.
I completed my studies as a Personal Trainer at the Australian Institute of Fitness and also work at ‘3 Sons Fitness’ where I facilitate boot camps and one on one sessions. I have also just completed my Certificate IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice as this allows me to be a registered Health Worker/Practitioner.
I am very passionate about health and wellbeing for all people in the community. Being able to do the work that I do, gives me the opportunity to advocate and empower my mob and also help people holistically. Working with Maurice has taught me patience and leadership. He engages with the youth and families at a higher level as an Indigenous elder. Working together we are able to share our own life journeys, stories and hardship with the youth and families to connect and engage with them to make change. My goal is to be a strong role model for my community for all cultures.
I am Maurice Busch, 53yrs old and I have been working with Gidgee Healing for 6 months as a Social and Emotional Wellbeing Support Officer. I have lived in Mt Isa for going onto 18 years, and lived and finished my schooling in Mount Isa.
I come from a back ground of growing up in Normanton and Croydon. My mother is Tagalaka from Croydon, which is in the gulf country and my father is from Mapoon in the NW Cape, and of Aboriginal and South Sea backgrounds. My work experience has been in Cattle Stations, Council, Railway, and Mining. Working in this field is a new experience for me, but I have also had a lot of life experience to do the work that I do.
I am enjoying working in this field as it is very rewarding helping our people and making change in the community. I am enjoying working with Brodie, for his young years he is switched on, and very dedicated to helping Grass Roots people.
SERVICES WORKING TOGTHER – Collaborative Service Approach to make change
From the beginning, the initial engagement was with a family of three young people referred to Family Wellbeing from Child Safety Services, the Youth High Risk Team and Youth Justice. Worries identified in the referrals for the family included, disengagement from school, parenting support, household relationships, including conflict between the parents and children, social and community support networks, alcohol and drug misuse, re-offending and breaching parole conditions and partaking in criminal activities. At the time, there was also overcrowding which contributed to the worries.
After some time working with mum and other family members, the young people started to engage with staff through yarning and getting to know each other. The approach with the young males was to start from the grass roots of engagement through yarning, taking them back to country and involving them in activities to get them out of the house.
With the support of Family Wellbeing staff, the young people were back at school after nearly 18 months of non-attendance and engaging with Family Wellbeing staff. However, over a few months, they disengaged and contact with them was very limited. Their family was engaging though and wanted to work with Family Wellbeing and we stayed involved in a support capacity.
When Maurice came on board with SEWB, both he and Brodie would go out and visit the young people and encourage them to attend activities arranged with other service providers.
From these beginnings and interactions, connections and partnerships were made and Gidgee Healing’s Family Wellbeing, SEWB, Headspace Programs now partner with other local youth services and agencies to jointly run the ‘Youth and Family Connecting’ program and the ‘Battle Won’ Pilot Program of Headspace.
But it doesn’t end there, Brodie, Maurice and Marcel have plans to invite other Gidgee Healing programs such as, Deadly Choices and Sexual Health to promote health and wellbeing, external service providers and local Cultural Advisors and Traditional Owners to focus on cultural learning and mentoring, connection to country, exercise and fitness, social inclusion, networking, sharing of information and knowledge and personal and community safety. Big plans and we know, together we can do it.
Thank you for reading our article and we hope that you have enjoyed hearing about our – “Mount Isa Murri Men Making Momentum” program and how a basic grass roots approach with limited resources can make a difference.
The Beginning Photo – Gidgee Healing SEWB Worker, Maurice Busch and FWS Worker, Brodie Germaine and Young People.
‘Youth and Family Connecting’ Program – Youth People Ahead (YPA), Gidgee Healing Family Wellbeing and SEWB and QATSICH Staff
Youth and Family Connecting – Program Participants and Staff
‘Battle Won’ Group Program – Staff, trainers and participants