International Women’s Day & The JNCMarch 8, 2019
International Women’s Day message from The JNC’s Aboriginal Community Support Worker
International Women’s Day is here and I think about the strong Aboriginal Women whom I meet when they come into The Junction Neighbourhood Centre at Maroubra.
Our Local Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Women may come in for various reasons. Sometimes it is a referral to another service, a Yarn or casework. I act as the bridge between our Clients and the services they need to negotiate. We work with trust and mutual respect. Everyone has a reason to explain the journey that they are currently walking.
What stands out for me when I think of these Women is that they believe. They believe in themselves, their Culture and their Children. They also believe that gender equality is a fundamental building block in their children’s development.
These are women who are doing it tough, emotionally, financially and physically. They are sole carers of their children, there are often no significant male role models for these children, but our local Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Women, who are deeply cultural, recognise and acknowledge the gender balance that is so important for their children.
Some of our mums have been subject to emotionally crippling and physically destructive domestic violence; despite this, they want their children to be introduced to strong male role models. Many of them want their children to continue with a relationship with dad and they are often confronted with obstacles in achieving this balance in gender relationships for their children.
I am often humbled by these young Women’s courage and determination to maintain their pride as women and share this with their children so that those children can develop strong principles of gender equality.
Often the women I work with are nurturing children whilst they are negotiating hostile structures of poverty and discrimination. They have to go home to their children and hold it all together as they deal with the trauma of justifying their wish to remain at home with the children, especially when their babies are as young as 6 months old.
These strong Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Women are constantly putting their own pain aside so that their children can feel stable and secure. This takes courage. On this International Women’s Day, I take this opportunity to share my admiration for the Women with whom I am privileged to work.
Barbara O’Neill, Aboriginal Community Support Worker, The Junction Neighbourhood Centre