The early settlement of the Inala area commenced after World War II when a group of ex-servicemen set out to provide affordable accommodation for returned servicemen and their families. The land was then purchased by Queensland Housing Commission in the 1940s with the majority of houses being rented to immigrants and ex-servicemen, including a large Dutch community in the 1950s.
Published historical accounts of the region rarely describe Aboriginal occupation in the area. However, locals report that there were a small number of Aboriginal families who had camped by local creeks around the Inala and Acacia Ridge area in the 1950’s. One local historian (Howell 2000) reported that Aboriginal families had started moving into houses in the region in the 1960s and today, Inala is home to the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Brisbane.
Inala is commonly typified as a ‘bad’ neighbourhood, mostly by people who live outside of the region. A high level of public housing, low levels of home ownership, high crime rates, low income levels and a high proportion of Indigenous and non-English speaking populations are just some of the misconstrued markers that describe the area.
While Inala has had a tendency to be stigmatised in the public arena, its unique history and multicultural blend of people from a broad and diverse range of cultural, social and economic backgrounds, is in fact, one of the community’s major strengths. This provides people with a very strong sense of community connection, belonging and pride.
Furthermore, places like Inala are viewed as places that people don’t ‘choose’ to live, but are forced to reside due to economic hardship. However, within our community, while affordable public housing may have initially drawn many people to the suburb, the strong family and community cultural ties have ensured that generations of Indigenous families have continued to call Inala home.
While many Indigenous families within our community do experience hardship and struggles, our identity as a community, a culture and as a strong organisation of people are not defined exclusively by the perceived problems experienced.
Pride in community is manifested in the attachments people have to the street names, the post code, points of social contact, songs people have created, memories and stories of the struggles, the success of many ‘Inala people’ and the language and culture that is proudly proclaimed as Inala’s.
By embracing our organisational values and strength-based method of service delivery Inala Wangarra will reconfigure the negativity in which communities such as Inala are typically viewed.
While our community’s problems may seem complex and sometimes insurmountable to outsiders, the effective harnessing of our enormous social and cultural strength and capacity will result in ongoing positive social change and reaffirm local people’s pride in our community.