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Missed The Point this week? Catch up on all the stories here.
Neil McMahon

The Point
3 Jun 2021 - 4:18 PM  UPDATED 3 Jun 2021 - 4:20 PM

Homeless funding threat

The First Nations Homelessness Project has been running for six years, but is facing an uncertain future as the Federal Government ceases funding.

Project director Jennifer Kaeshagen told The Point the service had helped 344 families over the years and had a success rate of 96.8 per-cent in stopping evictions.

Grandmother Patricia Williams is one of the many Stolen Generation members who've benefitted from the program. 

“I couldn't deal with nothing, and I was saying if I’m going to live on the streets I’d better planning for it now or (start) thinking about it, but I just preferred to go in my room and lock myself in there and not deal with anything, with anybody,” she said.

"It's the stress about everything, the inspection. The bills and keeping my rent up to date. And just trying to keep on top of everything.”

Ms Daeshagen said she and the people she serves were baffled by the federal decision to cut funding.

“This is a project with a huge success rate, an unusually high success rate, because it’s so tailored to meet the actual need around the specific goals of preventing homelessness and child removal,” she said.

“It doesn't make any sense. The community can't figure out, our families can't figure out, the staff can't figure out why this is occurring."

‘They saved my life’: WA eviction prevention service facing closure after funding ends
An Aboriginal homelessness prevention service which has helped stave off eviction for 344 vulnerable families in Western Australia will close at the end of this month if funding is not restored.

They're pleading for a grace period of 12 months funding, to work out how they can continue operating beyond that time frame.

The federal authority responsible for the funding told The Point that such funding was a state responsibility.

Wayne Fella Morrison inquest

Latoya Rule, sibling of Wayne Fella Morrison, said sitting through the coronial inquest and hearing the details of her brother’s death has been “devastating”.

Mr Morrison, 29, died days after being restrained with handcuffs, feet binding and a spit hood at Yatala prison, where he was on remand.

“Both my mum and I have broke down in court about what's been going on,” she said.

“To face people - you can only imagine what you're going to do and say for almost five years and then to finally face officers and have them say nothing and have them not even look at you for the most part and be able to claim their silence, it further renders us invisible in that space.”

CCTV footage shows guards wrestling Mr Morrison to the ground, placing a spit hood over his head and putting him face down in a van.

Wayne Fella Morrison's family disappointed as inquest fails to give answers
Despite dragging on for three years, the coronial inquest into the Wiradjuri, Wirangu and Kookatha man's death is still not providing any answers or closure for his family.

“We should be challenging the systems for the fact that they killed my brother when he was in their care, and when I say ‘they’ I mean the state,” Ms Rule said.

Ms Rule is also leading a campaign to have spit hoods banned nationally.

Sports and mental health

The Point spoke to former NRL player, boxer and mental health advocate Joe Williams about the pressures facing athletes in the wake of tennis player Naomi Osaka’s stunning withdrawal from the French Open this week.

“We put sports people up... on these pedestals to think that they have to go out and perform their best and they have to impress,” Williams said.

What we need to do as First Nation people is make sure our spirit is strong

“If Naomi’s taken the time that she needs, people need to be respectful of that because at the end of the day if (her) mental health and wellbeing isn't at the best, she's not going to be the best tennis player she can be.”

Williams was asked if it was more difficult for Indigenous athletes, who had the added issue of racism to confront in their public lives.

“We are a deeply spiritual people, and when our spirit gets impacted it can look like the impact of mental health challenges or behaviours,” he said.

“What we need to do as First Nation people is make sure our spirit is strong and what the non-Indigenous community need to realise is that we... can't heal our spirit at times in a non-Indigenous environment.

“It's a people issue. It's a community issue. It's an entire country issue. What we need to continue to do is call this stuff out, and again I always talk about how racism may look like it’s getting worse but what we're doing when we're calling out racism is rising the rot to the top of the pond.”

Saving Aboriginal babies

The Point explored a South Australian research program working with Indigenous families to lessen the number of sudden unexpected deaths.

We don't hear about the sudden unexpected death in our community

With the number of sudden unexpected deaths higher in Indigenous families, the project uses a specially designed sleeping aid - called a Pepi-pod - to target the danger and to teach mothers how to put their babies to sleep safely.

“When you first show it to them, they’re like, ‘This just looks like a tub’,” said researcher Sharon Watts. “But it's much more effective than it looks.”

The Pepi-pod, designed in New Zealand, has two air pockets at the top for air flow. On each side at head level are a sun and a moon, to make sure the baby is being stimulated and turning its head.

“We don't hear about the sudden unexpected death in our community,” Ms Watts said.

Innovative co-sleeping device aims to lower SIDS rates in Aboriginal communities
A pod device colloquially known as a “bread box” is sparking conversations around keeping babies safer, and potentially saving lives, in South Australia.

“And it's becoming really quite common and prominent with our people and our babies accidentally dying and being suffocated … [but with the Pepi-pod] you can see baby, you know baby’s safe, baby’s breathing.


"It's transportable. It eliminates a lot of that stress around baby sleeping habits and that you know baby is safe.”

Dr Nina Sivertsen, chief investigator of the Safe Sleeping Baby Project at Flinders University, said that for every one non-Aboriginal baby that died, there were four Aboriginal fatalities.

AIATSIS summit

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies summit is being held with about 800 delegates in Adelaide this week, with the themes of Community, Truth, Treaty, Voice and Country.

A key focus is reparation of sacred and stolen objects held in overseas institutions. The institute plays a key role in getting major collections and objects returned to country.

“It is very important for those items to be returned to country because they belong here,” institute CEO Craig Ritchie told the program.

“Those communities will use many of those items, particularly those that have ceremonial purposes, in those ceremonies, so it's an important way of reinvigorating cultural life of communities. But it also signals very importantly how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are critical to this nation's story and to our national identity.

“It's very emotional... it's really quite overwhelming to observe the emotion and the connection that communities still have to these objects, many of which have been overseas for decades.”

Speaking of the recent return of objects from the UK, Mr Ritchie said: “It’s a really long journey. Those objects have been away for over a century in the United Kingdom, so to have them come home was a really powerful thing and a powerful event. “

Torres Strait art

Newcastle is hosting WARWAR, the biggest exhibition of Torres Strait art outside the islands. The exhibition, celebrating Torres Strait culture and traditions, has been developed by artist and curator Brian Robinson.

“It's always an amazing buzz when you see exhibitions such as this go from scribbles on pieces of paper through to physical artworks being on walls,” Robinson said.

“It picks up on that central influence of dance practice throughout the Torres Straits as well … each and every work on display really talks about the Torres Straits, the customs, the lifestyle. The landscapes and the land forms. Pretty much anything and everything Torres Strait.”

Australian Fashion Week

The Point interviewed Whadjuk Noongar model Nathan McGuire, who is making his mark during Australian Fashion Week in Sydney after recently being named “face of the future” by GQ magazine.

“I'm really proud of all the young First Nations models … and I'm just excited to see them shine on the runway,” McGuire said.

“This year is like nothing we've ever seen before at Fashion Week, so having a beautiful Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony this morning is a first for Fashion Week, and then we have First Nations models in the first opening runway show.”

First Nations designers and artists make history at Australian Fashion Week
GALLERY: The curated event presented the works of seven First Nations designers, worn by all-Indigenous models. Take a look at the deadly designs.

The glitz of Fashion Week is a long way from where the 25-year-old thought he would end up when growing up in regional WA.

“I did not think I was going to be a model and I did not think that I would be where I am in my career through fashion. I wanted to be a hockey player. And I love my hockey but that didn't go for me, so - yeah, here I am now being a model.

“To be appreciated by my community is such an honour, and it's kind of what I do it for. And I say with my friends and family in conversation, that's better than any cove or accolade that I can get.”