NINE separate Aboriginal families “forced to live under one roof at Goodna” were beneficiaries of a drop-off of food and household items by Brisbane archdiocese’s Murri Ministry last week.
Murri Ministry co-ordinator Ravina Waldren said that, under this one roof, one family member had prostate cancer, another had a son with severe sleep apnoea, another male was awaiting a liver donation and there was a young girl who had bouts of severe asthma.
Ms Waldren said these were “but one of many indigenous families still lacking proper housing and other facilities” since the disastrous January floods around Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba.
She blamed a lack of government consultation with Aboriginal elders since the floods and said the situation would be even worse if Murri Ministry had not facilitated a meeting at the archdiocese’s Justice Place with disaster relief agencies in late January.
“Our people felt a sense of shame in having to go to agencies and deal with white people to get help,” she said.
“Our elders were never asked to be part of a recovery team – if they’d been there from the beginning things would have been so much simpler.”
Murri Ministry has been “forced to take up the slack, helping Aboriginal families fallen through the cracks for a variety of reasons”.
“We’ve been relying on tireless work of our elders such as Uncle David Miller and Aunties Judy Brown and Jean Philips,” Ms Waldren said.
“We’re really struggling to meet expenses like cooking for families being done here, paying for phone calls, hiring trucks to deliver donated items, not to mention paying for drivers and petrol.
“We’ve also been run off our feet in administrative tasks such as answering phone calls and emails for help.”
Last week’s truck run of household items, clothing and Easter eggs as far afield as Grantham was the fourth such delivery since the floods.
Help has come from many quarters – the Aboriginal Medical Centre helped fund a driver for six weeks; a Brisbane Lutheran Church pastor provided church space to store donated furniture and indigenous elder Narella Simpson has been helping distribute items in the Ipswich area through the Dinmore Murri Baptist Church.
All Hallows’ School has also been supportive, collecting household items and conducting an Easter egg drive as well as supplying students to pack the eggs, Ms Waldren said.
“We’ve had to do this without any financial assistance from the Government,” she said.
“We’re doing this because it’s our calling to meet the needs of our people.
“Someone has to be out there doing it in their greatest hour of need – otherwise they would even lose faith in us.”
Ravina Waldren can be contacted through Murri Ministry on (07) 3891 1931 or email@example.com