By Henry Gilbert

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AllGrid Energy’s (AGE) event “Illuminating the EnviroMENTAL: Healing from the inside out” is only a week away. Held in the SMC function centre in Sydney with David Suzuki as our keynote speaker backed by an array of incredibly powerful voices from the indigenous community, the night promises to be truly inspiring. In the lead up we’re doing a series of feature articles to acquaint you with the speakers of the night.

We have a feature on Elijah Douglas and his story about the Doomadgee boys, SEED Mob founder, Amelia Telford, young farmer Josh Gilbert, NCIE CEO Kirstie Parker, and the former rugby player Nathan Blacklock, who currently works in suicide prevention. This article is about Olga Havnen, a woman of Western Arrerente descent, who is currently the director of Anglicare NT, and is the CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin.

Olga has always been a champion of issues relating to the indigenous communities of the Northern Territories and beyond. She’s worked for Fred Hollows and Red Cross, land councils and all levels of government.

“All too often the experience of Indigenous peoples across the world is littered with well-intentioned failures. To bring about effective, positive change we – Indigenous people, must be active participants and decision makers.  We must be own agents of change and governments and funders need to be facilitators and enablers rather than the ‘doers’. That’s why it’s really so important to gather together as a community to have conversations about the things that we want to change about our society. We can really fix things with networks such as these.”

“In my experience with our communities in the Northern Territory, Aboriginal people know the issues that we are really struggling with, but often aren’t given the space to be heard in a meaningful way. The challenge faced by government and bureaucracy is not just to listen, but more importantly, to change the power balance in relationships and decision making processes. we know what is best for us, we know what will work.  Our communities are tired of the search for ‘quick fixes’ and magic bullets.  Sustainable change takes time, commitment and resources.”

“I think there’s a perception that sometimes comes from outside of the Indigenous communities that the issues we are facing are too big to really be tackled. But I think this is completely false. I’ve had conversations with many members of the community and I think you would be astounded by the practical solutions that people come up with. What they struggle with is being given the support and resources they need to implement these solutions. It’s quite reflective of what is going on in the energy sector, we have solar panels and batteries and other solutions that can be used to solve these problems, what we need now is the momentum to get things rolling.”

“I think that Indigenous people are really on a path of healing and building a sense of hope for the future. And I think this wisdom is something that Australia really needs right now.”

We here at AGE look forward to hearing the wise words of Olga Havnen in Sydney at ‘Illuminating the EnviroMENTAL: healing from the inside out’. If you’re interested in participating in this amazing event we’d love to have you along on the night, you can buy tickets for the event here. If you can’t attend we have set up a donation crowd-funding platform for people and we would very much appreciate it if you could share these events through your social media platforms.

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