The NSW Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) recently supported a number of key NAIDOC Week events across the state by hosting interactive information stalls in Tamworth, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo and in Sydney - Campbelltown and Penrith celebrations on 6 & 7 July, 2017.
A number of AHO staff worked at stalls, providing important information to NAIDOC visitors, speaking directly to current and potential AHO tenants and celebrating strong and surviving culture with community members.
The stalls also hosted exciting games and activities for children and families, including quoits, guessing competitions and a ‘selfie’ area. A range of AHO merchandise and showbags were given out to the hundreds of visitors who came by the marquees.
The AHO said it was a great opportunity to meet with community and acknowledge the significance of the week.
Michael Bell who attended the Campbelltown event said, "NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for us to all come together and really bring to light what our community does and all of our achievements."
Attending the events also allowed the AHO to catch up with current tenants and discuss the importance of housing in our communities.
Auntie Jacqui Welsh said she thought having a home made a big difference for Aboriginal families.
"Having the stability of a home makes a really big difference- especially if a family has kids. It’s important that kids know they’ve got somewhere to come home to. It motivates them. There are just so many opportunities for young people these days."
She also said it helped tenants financially and allowed them to save and focus on other important aspects of their life, like education.
"Having somewhere stable and affordable helps people with their financial situation and helps them manage everything a little bit better. If they know that housing is one thing they don’t have to worry about, it just takes that off their mind. Having the AHO out here at the event just builds that rapport with community."
As well as affirm how important housing is to supporting communities, a number of tenants were also proud to share their positive housing stories.
Samira Boney who attended the Penrith celebrations, said she lived in an Aboriginal housing property that had been in her family for decades.
"Aboriginal Housing were able to help us keep the property in the family. My nan had lived there since the 1960’s and I took it over in 2000. It has been a place for our family to meet, in the holidays and for NAIDOC celebrations."
Importantly, meeting with tenants also highlighted how Aboriginal Housing can provide a solid foundation for families in many areas of their life, including being a pathway to home ownership.
Community member, Pam Bell, raised her family in Aboriginal Housing and then went on to become a home owner herself in her 50s.
She and daughter Candice said, "Housing is the biggest area for us as a community. It provides somewhere sustainable to live but also gives you a sense of what it’s like to have your own place. It gives you pride to say ‘this is my house, come in for a feed or a cuppa.’ It doesn’t make you different- it just gives you a head start in life"
Pam said having a stable home helped her to sustain employment, which allowed the family to save for their own property.
Overall, both NAIDOC events provided an important opportunity for members of all communities to come together, learn about and celebrate Aboriginal culture and promote important services that make a difference to communities across NSW.
Article originally published 10 July 2017