NAIDOC Week is a celebration held across Australia to highlight the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year’s theme, ‘Because of her, we can’, celebrates Aboriginal women and the essential role these women play in their families and communities.
Tania Harris is a proud Aboriginal woman from Queensland. She is a mother, career woman and a carer to her 18-year-old daughter Lisa, who has cerebral palsy.
Sitting in her backyard, feeling the crisp, cool air and the light rain drizzling down the patio bricks, Tania explains what disability means to her.
“Aboriginality and disability don’t generally go together. There’s no Aboriginal word for disability. We accept people, and all their differences. We accept them, just as they are.”
Tania is an Aboriginal Consumer Engagement Coordinator for the Health Consumers’ Council and she commented on how different this year’s theme had been for the community.
“It’s the recognition of how much work women put in, especially Mums. We have Nannas and Aunties who also care for the children that aren’t theirs and we’ve had this opportunity to say nice things to each other and build each other up,” she said.
“I was very glad when I saw the theme. The women I know are really strong, very caring and resilient and they are faced with a lot of challenges; but they get through it and get on with it.”
Tania and Lisa have been accessing services from Therapy Focus for 14 years and in that time their needs have changed dramatically.
“We first started with Therapy Focus when Lisa was in full-time school and we had a lot of access to services,” she said.
“The therapists are really great and lovely people and we’ve found them to be quite intuitive in their work.”
Tania said she had learnt a great deal from immersing herself in the disability community and she had developed wonderful friendships with strong women with disability.
“My friends who have disabilities were so willing to share about how things feel in their body, and it gave me such insight into Lisa’s world,” she said.
“If I could give any families struggling with disability, some practical advice, it would be to go and join the community and really be a part of it. Sit with people and ask them questions about what they think and how they feel. It will teach you all about the world your child lives in.”
“We are not encouraged as parents to step into that world, but we should.”
NAIDOC week is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Find out about events happening in your area on the NAIDOC Week website.
Therapy Focus launched a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2017 to better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers and communities.