Studies have found that Aboriginal culture is one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world. With a heritage dating back at least 50,000 years, if not thousands of years more, it begs the question, what qualities do Aboriginal people possess that have enabled them to survive for so many millennia?
Proud Indigenous Australian, Fred Aplin, is an Ozcare client. His personal story is one of courage and survival, and a reflection of the ability of the Aboriginal culture to adapt and change overtime.
Born in Burketown in the Gulf in late 1960, Fred’s tribe, the Waanyii people, come from Gregory River. Fred was school age when he left the community with his family for Mount Isa.
As a young adult Fred held a number of jobs including drover, carpenter and community police officer, from which he was then promoted to sergeant. Married in 1983, Fred had five children and then his life took a turn for the worse.
“My marriage did not last,” said Fred.
“My marriage was broken, I was homeless and alcohol was not kind to me.”
Depression set in and Fred sadly ended up in hospital.
“I knew I had to do something,” said Fred.
“I asked the hospital staff to ring Ozcare to see if I could stay there.”
With the help of Ozcare’s hostel in Mount Isa; a safe place to sleep, food in his belly and the support and encouragement of staff, Fred recovered from his alcohol addiction and was on his way to taking back ownership of his life.
“The support from Ozcare means so much, if I didn’t have their help I would not have what I have now,” said Fred.
“I’m alcohol free, my health is much better, I recently brought myself a car and I now live in my own unit – I may not have a lot of furniture yet but I’ll get there, little by little."
Ozcare’s Support Worker Joice Reuben said Fred is a survivor.
“Fred has come a long way through his own determination,” said Joice.
“Fred was at rock bottom and he is now a very clean, healthy, well-spoken gentleman. I believe he can accomplish anything he chooses.”
Joice said Fred was a good role model at the hostel for the younger generation
“Fred is an excellent motivator for any age group, male or female,” said Joice.
“He has real life experience with real life problems and gives good advice in his role as an elder and someone who has come out the other side.”
Fred acknowledges, “I was once an alcoholic and homeless with nothing and nowhere to go. I am now a changed man and determined to stay like this.”
Fred’s story of strength and willpower is a wonderful tribute to NAIDOC week, and the celebration of Indigenous Australians and their exceptional survival skills and bravery in the face of eras of change.