North Coast candidate has passion to make difference
LOCAL knowledge and a passionate desire to make a difference for his people has driven Bundjalung man Robert Monaghan to seek office through the NSW Aboriginal Land Council elections later this month.
Mr Monaghan is seeking to be the North Coast councillor for NSWALC at its October 31 poll.
He said at 50 years of age he would bring lots of local knowledge and life experience to the role if elected.
"I was born and grew up at Baryulgil," he said. "For years I worked as a motor mechanic before I was invited to serve in the Aboriginal Health Service."
He put in 17 years in the role before he was offered the role of Aboriginal sexual health manager.
After accepting a redundancy Mr Monaghan decided to further his education with a Masters degree in Public Health.
"I also do some work for UNSW and run a consultancy company," he said. "One of my friends jokingly asked me why I was taking this on as well.
"The only reason I'm doing this is I was on the Land Council board in Baryulgil and a lot of those people are getting on a bit.
"I believe I have a responsibility to stand to represent them."
Mr Monaghan said the issues facing his people on the North Coast were the same as facing Aboriginal people nation wide.
"The key issues are always health, education and employment," he said.
"Of these I believe employment has the most power to change outcomes for Aboriginal people.
"Better employment opportunities would go a long way to better health.
"It would reduce the abnormally high incarceration rates of our people and might encourage kids to stay in school longer to get better jobs."
He said becoming a councillor for the North Coast would give him a chance to be a better advocate for his people.
"Transparency is one of the issues that needs to be addressed," he said.
"By transparency I mean the dissemination of information down to the grassroots of the community.
"Unfortunately we have not had that transfer of information.
"Too often councillors are voted in and we never see or hear from them again.
"We need to be out there asking more questions about what it means to be an Aboriginal person in this community."
He said social issues, like the high rates of ice usage among his people were also high on his agenda of things to do.
Another local man, Wesley Fernando, is seeking to be elected as the North Coast councillor. The Daily Examiner will contact him for his views this week.