First Aboriginal health festival aims to save lives

First Aboriginal health festival aims to save lives

Ashyla Cross, Wayne Ryder, Hudson Ryder, and Charli Ball with the Waakal Moort Kaadadjiny banner that Wayne painted him- self. Photograph — Aaron Van Rongen.

A snaking serpent of stalls filled with health, wellbeing, and job and education opportunities for Armadale’s Aboriginal community will fill Gwynne Park on October 24.

Wayne Ryder, the creator of the event, has been working for the last 18 months to organise Waakal Moort Kaadadjiny, which means Rainbow Serpent Family Learning.

After a number of Indigenous suicides in the Armadale area last year, Mr Ryder felt something needed to be done.

“There was a real outcry from the community about service providers not doing enough and I was just sitting at my desk one day and thought why doesn’t Perth have an Aboriginal health festival that’s purely aimed at health and wellbeing for the community?” he said.

This free event aims to bridge the gap between the community and service providers.

“The main aim is health,” he said.

Among the 44 stalls at the festival there will be a focus on mental health services, alcohol and drugs, podiatrists, physiotherapists, Jobactive, TAFE and much more.

“People can engage with services that they wouldn’t normally go out of their way and go into…just in a festival type atmosphere where people can come along and enjoy the day but also get their health checked,” he said.

Mr Ryder said that he wants to keep a focus on culture as well.

“There will be cultural dances, food, and activities at the event but those who attend will need to engage with the stalls in order to reap all the benefits,” he said.

“People have to engage with 10 store holders, they get10 stamps, that gives them access to the activities area.

“After that, they can see five more store holders. 15 stamps gives them access to free food, and if they see anything over 20 store holders they can win a prize.

“We’ve got a few signed AFL jumpers from the Eagles, Dockers, and the Collingwood footy club that will go up for raffles,” he said.

Mr Ryder said the event has brought the Aboriginal community closer together with 40 elders attending a meeting where only eight were expected.

“To get 40 people attending a meeting is massive and they were all happy that something was being done,” he said.

Mr Ryder has high hopes for the festival with this first one turning out bigger and better than he had expected.

“We went out and sourced funding ourselves,” he said.

“We put in for grants and we had over 16 organisations jump on board and we’ve managed to get around $60,000 for this festival.

“It’s actually a lot bigger than what I first imagined for the very first festival to happen but it’s growing, and that’s what we want it to do,” he said.

Over the next five years Mr Ryder hopes to take the festival all over Perth with hopes of it finally ending in a central location making it an annual Perth-wide Aboriginal health festival.

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