Ozcare outreach support worker Bruce Little has been a mainstay of the Indigenous community in Bundaberg for the past three decades. This NAIDOC week, he is one of two men nominated for the Elder of the Year award in the Bundaberg region.
A Dkakunda man born in Rockhampton in 1958, Bruce moved to Bundaberg in his teenage years and has been there ever since, along with his wife of 33 years Lavina, their seven children and 13 grandchildren.
Bruce has been with Ozcare for the past 17 years, undertaking a number of roles in our community support services in Wide Bay. He was instrumental to the introduction of an immunisation program for Indigenous people in the Wide Bay area.
For the past eight years Bruce has been employed as a support worker at the Bundaberg Homeless Men’s Hostel where he supports residents at the hostel to achieve their goals.
“We help residents get back on their feet. We help them to secure long-term accommodation, encourage them to find a job or volunteer work, support them to keep their appointments with doctors, housing and employment agencies, and refer them to other services for budgeting and financial advice,” Bruce said.
“We show our residents what’s available, there’s a lot of doors they can knock on. If they fall down again, we help them get back up.”
This year, Bruce has taken on a new position as mobile support worker, helping clients who have stayed at the hostel and moved out to permanent accommodation to make their tenancy a success.
“We encourage clients to maintain their tenancy after leaving the hostel. It’s easy to fall back into old habits so we’re there to help them along,” Bruce said. “It can be as simple as taking them to appointments, helping with budgeting and shopping, and making sure they are buying things they can afford.
“Sometimes we even bring them back to the kitchen to show them how to make multiple meals from a chicken and then how to use the leftovers to make a chicken pie.”
Bruce is very devout, having been involved with the Bundaberg Christian Fellowship for over 30 years and appointed pastor in 1998. Bruce continues to build faith and spiritual awareness within his local and wider community. Combining his passion for helping people and his beliefs, he was chaplin at Maryborough Corrections Facility for three years in addition to his work at the homeless hostel.
“A lot of people come through the doors of the hostel feeling down and out and I like to see them turn their lives around and do the best they can. I know what it’s like to find yourself struggling but I believe there’s a lot to live for,” Bruce said.