Raymond Terrace’s Diane Ball connecting communities through COVID-19

Diane Ball loves her work in the community.


COVID-19 has made life more difficult for many people in the local area, and has highlighted the need for community members to have effective access to key services and community resources.

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Diane Ball, the executive director of the Raymond Terrace-based Wahroonga Aboriginal Corporation, has been connecting local Indigenous families and individuals to the services and programs they need during the pandemic.

Since starting her corporation in 1994, Diane has worked tirelessly, and unpaid, advocating for local Aboriginal issues and making sure local people were accessing the support they required and were entitled to.

Diane said her experiences growing up infomed her later choice of career.

“You grow from childhood and you see the struggles. I was always passionate about being a voice, where sometimes our mob doesn’t have that voice,” said Diane.

“I was living and breathing it. The experience of being homeless, going through the struggles, I have been through the things that our mob faces.”

Diane said that often Aboriginal people weren’t aware of the support available to them, or had difficulty accessing it.
“I knock down barriers and support our Indigenous people to better help their lifestyle. For example, I make sure people have access and knowledge of our local Aboriginal health services,” she said.

Diane also liaises with Government departments to ensure programs are inclusive and accessible to Aboriginal people.

“When I go into consultations with Government or community agencies, I speak about the programs and some of the barriers for people who don’t fit within the guidelines,” she said.

“I always come across barriers for Indigenous people, programs sometimes don’t cater for someone’s individual needs, then when they get this funding from the government, there are still barriers to accessing it. It’s like a revolving door. Then your back to square one.”

During COVID-19, the need for Diane’s role has been even greater.

“I hear a lot of people locally not being able to access services during COVID 19, so I stay in contact with community members, see how they are going.”

Diane says that a one-size-fits-all approach simply does not work with Aboriginal communities, and said that building trust was an important first step.

“When you look at it you have your urban communities, and on the flip side when you go to reserves or missions, they are like a community on their own.

“Basically if they don’t know you they won’t voice their concerns. It’s about going out, introducing yourself, having a yarn. It does take time to build that trust.”

While her work is all done on a volunteer basis, Diane says she finds her role rewarding.

“Yeah I don’t get paid, but when I put a smile on an individual or families face, that’s all the payment I need.”



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