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Psychosocial Support Program assists First Nations people in northern Queensland

Dechlan Brennan -

An Indigenous support program has allowed a Cape York First Nations man to reconnect with his culture, whilst simultaneously showcasing his artistic flair.

Hailing from the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) of Queensland, Sabu Wailu has always had a passion for art, allowing him the opportunity to both connect with, and express, his culture and personal narrative.

He has been able to sell some of his art with support from the Commonwealth Psychosocial Support Program, delivered through the NPA Family and Community Services (NPAFACS). Focussing on natural materials, Mr Wailu was able to both submit his artworks and attend the NPA Art Exhibition in 2023.

"I really enjoyed the exhibition and am appreciative of the support I received from both my family and friends," Mr Wailu said, via Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN).

"I take pride when it comes to my art and am proud of my completed works."

He said has excited for the chance to sell and display more of his artwork, in part due to the support from staff from NPAFACS.

NPAFACS CEO, Tailisa Yusia, said witnessing Mr Wailu's ability, combined with his focus, motivation and raw talent was "awe-inspiring".

"It makes you very appreciative of being in a position to support such a creative and talented individual to extend their potential," she said.

She said a recent influx of referrals have helped to break down the stigma attached with seeking help.

"Shame and stigma are a major barrier to help-seeking behaviour, but a recent increase in referrals through a combination of promotional events and outreach has been working," Ms Yusia said.

The increase in referrals has also allowed the program to expand its capacity to include "culturally relevant group activities to develop positive social connections."

Funded by NQPHN, the Commonwealth Psychosocial Support Program offers recovery coaching and support in areas such as social and family connections, life skills for day-to-day usage, health and resilience.

The program helps to support First Nations adults across the NPA communities of Seisia, New Mapoon, Bamaga, Umagico, and Injinoo and is tailored to meet the needs of each individual.

Since joining the program, Mr Wailu told NQPHN he had been able to further engage in cultural activities, including expanding his connection to Country and the sea through fishing, as well as offering help with daily challenges.

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