A First Nations Connection
Paula and Daniel are proud First Nation’s people.
Paula of the Gomeroi People
Born in Boggabilla, Paula’s roots are in the Gomeroi, an Aboriginal people whose lands extend from New South Wales to southern Queensland. They form one of the four largest Indigenous nations in Australia.
Paula has lived a life driven by her Indigenous roots, focussed on empowering her people. She’s worked as an Aboriginal case worker, in juvenile justice and to this day continues to be an advocate for her mob.
Last year, Paula took the opportunity to become a frontline worker at Sylvanvale. In April 2022, she started supporting Daniel.
Daniel of the Wiradjuri People
Daniel, born in Dubbo, is Wiradjuri, which is the biggest group of Aboriginal people in New South Wales. They once occupied a vast area in central New South Wales, on the plains running north and south to the west of the Blue Mountains.
A longstanding user of Sylvanvale supports, Daniel had been living in Sylvanvale supported accommodation in the Blue Mountains for nearly ten years when he and Paula were matched.
While Daniel’s First Nation’s roots run deep, his lived experience had been different to Paula’s. His Indigenous heritage was not something he knew a great deal about or publicly celebrated.
It would be with Paula’s support that Daniel would develop a deeper understanding of his Indigenous identity.
Bonding through Sport
A shared love of sport opened the door to Daniel and Paula establishing a meaningful connection. It all started with a conversation about the Koori Knockout, a rugby league tournament on the New South Wales’ south coast; one of the biggest Indigenous sporting events in the country.
It was this conversation which broke the ice and from which Paula learnt more about Daniel and found out that he didn’t talk openly about his Indigenous roots.
She also realised that Daniel wasn’t accessing all the community supports available to him as an Indigenous Australian, to help close the gap.
Bit by bit, Paula started to talk to Daniel about who he is, his connections and where he belongs. She helped him to realise that he could ask questions and that he was in a safe space to talk about his background.
Paula also worked with Daniel to connect him to all of the supports available to him.
At Daniel’s request, he and Paula created a cultural reference folder for staff at his home. It included information about Aboriginal traditions and culture, as well as significant events throughout the year such as National Sorry Day.
It’s been a positive experience for everyone. In Paula’s words, the staff have been “amazing”, wanting to learn and understand more.
For Paula, it’s been rewarding and has enabled her to continue her life’s work of empowering and supporting First Nation’s people: “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Daniel and introducing him to his culture. He’s overcome huge hurdles and has come a long way. I’m very proud of him.”
Daniel now has a greater sense of identity and he understands that when he wants to learn more and speak about his culture, he can.
Enjoyed this story? You can find it alongside a snapshot of key initiatives, achievements and highlights throughout the 2022-23 financial year, in the latest Sylvanvale Limited Annual Report.