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Māori drug counsellor builds Aboriginal connections in remote Pilbara communities

Date posted: 9 June 2015

Kereama Greenland has found his Māori heritage helps him support remote Aboriginal communities fight drug and alcohol abuse.

'That initial approach, it's about sharing and I've got a lot to share just from being Maori and it's amazing how many people know about our race as well,' Mr Greenland told Alexia Attwood on ABC North West WA Local Radio.

When Mr Greenland first took a job with Mission Australia and moved to Newman he only had a phone, a laptop and worked from the back of his vehicle for six months.

'I try and learn fast or quickly how they roll within their own families, within their own communities. When in Rome, do what Romans do. I really agree with that saying,' said Mr Greenland.

He says understanding a person's history and identity is key to solving alcohol and other drug use issues. 'Basically what I do with people, with an Indigenous perspective, with a mainstream perspective as well, is I walk them right back to where they didn't have those problems.'

Mr Greenland then explored the difficult sections of people's lives that caused them to start using alcohol and other drugs.

While establishing himself within the region, Mr Greenland began identifying elements of the industry that he would like to see change.

'What I was discovering was a predominantly mainstream workforce,' he said. 'I was very much on the lookout for more Indigenous input into service delivery around here, and not because I'm Indigenous myself. Being a large Aboriginal population round here, it's just sort of like an expectation of mine.'

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Last updated: 8 June 2015
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute