“Often our stories don’t get heard”: Giving a voice to First Nations people with disability

Date 08 July 2022

Caption: Your Story Advisory Group member Selena Jade Brown is an Indigenous hearing-impaired woman from Queensland’s Darriebullum Bunda and Kuku-Yalanji regions, and a Registered Aboriginal Health Practitioner working in remote Northern Territory.

this NAIDOC Week, Your Story Advisory Group member Selena Jade Brown shares with Your Story what NAIDOC means to her…

“NAIDOC is a celebration held each year to celebrate, remember and reflect the First Nations people of Australia.

As an Indigenous woman from both Darriebullum Bunda (Bundaberg region) and Kuku-Yalanji region (Far North Queensland), it is a time to reflect with my family, my fellow Indigenous people and to pay respects to my elders past and present, which includes my grandparents, who are elders for Darriebullum Bunda.

This year’s theme ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’ is just as equally as important as past themes. Given recent events, with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ march and other similar life events, this year’s theme is to encourage and advise us and others to stand up and show up to support those in need.

This year’s theme also resonates with the work that Your Story and the Disability Royal Commission are doing – collecting stories to help those in need, among other things. Like with any group of ethnic people, we also have our fair share of Indigenous peoples with a disability, and like many others, often our stories don’t get heard.

The work that Your Story and the Royal Commission are doing is helping Indigenous people across Australia and it gives us the voice that we need in order to stand up. As an Indigenous hearing-impaired woman who has had the opportunity to share her story and give her voice to those in need, it is a somewhat liberating experience to be able to share a story to show people that they’re not alone after not being heard and living in silence for so long.

Often, not just with my own personal experiences but through my work as a Registered Aboriginal Health Practitioner (RAHP) in remote Northern Territory, I see patients from communities whose stories often go unheard. So, the work I do, along with many others working within Aboriginal corporations, and Aboriginal medical services, along with my role as an RAHP and as an advocate, is important as it gives a voice to those in need.

For this year’s NAIDOC, I will be celebrating with my family and my fellow health workers – nurses, Aboriginal health workers and doctors alike – marching on NAIDOC day alongside my fellow Indigenous people and continuing to work with Your Story to give First Nations people a voice as a representative on the Your Story Advisory Group. 

I invite everyone to celebrate NAIDOC this year and encourage them to attend the NAIDOC march and events in their towns and to also encourage others to Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up.”