City West Housing has a long history of engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who make up 12 per cent of our resident community.
National Reconciliation Week is held annually (27 May to 3 June), commemorating two significant dates in the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.
This week we speak with City West Housing resident Kalmain about his life, why this week is important and what having a home means to him.
Kalmain grew up in Redfern and has lived his whole life in and around the area. His family is Wiradjuri (Central West NSW) and Gumbaynggirr (Mid North Coast). Knowing where his family comes from, and its strong history makes him very proud of his connection to Aboriginal cultures in NSW.
This year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week is ‘Be Brave. Make Change.’. Kalmain said this is a reminder of the individual power we all hold to make a positive impact along the journey to reconciliation. “We want everyone to work together. It’s what First Nations people have fought hard for, and it’s important for all Australians to recognise the fight that we’ve been through.”
Kalmain works in a role he enjoys that allows him to support the community he grew up in. For the last ten years he has been employed at Centrelink as an Indigenous Specialist Officer, working from Redfern to Bankstown to Cronulla and everywhere in between.
Before Kalmain obtained affordable housing in Glebe through City West two years ago, he was living with family in Erskineville. He lived with his mother, sister, and niece in an overcrowded three-bedroom house. “The rent kept going up and eventually we struggled to afford it, even though we were all working”, he explained.
Kalmain’s mum and sister applied for affordable housing and when they were offered a place, he then had to move in with his aunt where he stayed for two years. Although he enjoyed living there, he felt moving out and having his own space would be better for his sense of independence.
Having a stable home with City West Housing brings peace of mind for Kalmain and allows him to give back to his community. “My home here means living close to the community I grew up in, my family and work, which is really important to me.”
Kalmain said that finding a place through private rental that he could afford would mean moving far away, which is not ideal. “I’m very involved with the local rugby league team, the Redfern All Blacks, and I volunteer with Redfern Youth Connect. I need to live in the local area to be better able to work in the best interest of my local community”.
Read more City West Housing resident stories.