In 2015 Telethon Kids Institute was awarded a 100 Women grant of $39,450 towards assisting ten Aboriginal women from across the Fitzroy Valley (in the Kimberley region of WA) become community researchers whilst exploring long term intervention strategies for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Last week five of the women were in Perth to participate in training and cross-cultural awareness sessions. Three members of 100 Women (Carol Yiannopoulos, Kristy Rodwell and Michelle Emmett) were invited to meet with the women from the Fitzroy Valley, program leader Bree Wagner and members of the Telethon team.
We spent an afternoon at the Telethon Kids Institute sharing stories, learning from each other and enjoying a delicious afternoon tea, the highlight being damper with jam. The ladies shared about their different communities in the Fitzroy Valley and some of the challenges local Aboriginal women face, how they came to be part of the research program and some of the data collection tasks that they are involved with using their language skills, cultural knowledge and understanding of family structures. The research is designed to understand the outcomes of the Alert Program® which is being delivered in schools across the Fitzroy Valley to all students. The program, which teaches sensory motor strategies, aims to improve self-regulation and executive functioning, which are areas that children with FASD particularly find challenging. They also came with questions for us as members of 100 Women, how the organisation has evolved, the number of grants we have provided, how often do we get to actually meet with grant recipients and what lessons they could take from our experience to assist them in building grassroot services for women in their communities.
Bree provided some more detailed insight into the training program and the impact it is having for these women and their own communities. We will share this video in the next few weeks. We came away, not only convinced of the importance of this research and the enhancement that the two-way partnership is bringing between the community researchers and the Telethon research team, but that employing these local Aboriginal women has elevated their role in their communities and provided them with further employment opportunities on research programs.