Youth lead the way at LaPa

At just 32 years of age, Chris Ingrey is leading the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) and making a positive impact in his community.

Chris was born and bred in La Perouse and grew up as one of three identical triplets. He and his brothers Michael and Raymond went to the local primary and high schools and have been active in community events throughout their lives.

Like many La Perouse community members, Chris has a strong understanding and respect for the history of the area, with its Land Council being one of the founding LALCs in NSW. He is also very aware of the challenges the community has faced by being so closely surrounded by the industrial hub of Sydney city.

“One of the biggest issues in our urban setting is security and the need to feel secure here. We have urbanisation all around us and we’ve got to be able to protect our own assets so that they can be used in a sustainable way. That way, the La Perouse Aboriginal community will still be here in another 50 years time and beyond,” he says.

Traditionally, housing has been the key focus for the La Perouse LALC but for the past five years, it has played a major role in engaging young people. It’s something that has been inspired bycommunity members such as the late Uncle Chicka Dixon.

“I used to spend quite a lot of time with him before his passing and a lot of our discussions were about the Land Council and the direction it was going in. In fact, he was actually really instrumental to the younger people of La Perouse. He always welcomed the younger ones to yarn with him.”

Chris says the La Perouse LALC has invested quite a lot in the younger generation, especially people under 30.

“For the past few years our community has had a real focus on itself. Before that, government would come in and tell us what to do and the community would react to that, but now we are looking within to develop our own solutions,” he says.

Operations Manager Carrine Liddell, who helped to set up the La Perouse Youth Haven, says initially they wanted to give young people something to do to as an alternative to anti social behaviour, but never imagined it would be so positive.

“We have higher participation rates in services, not just in the LALC but in the community. We have also seen a reduction in the number of young people involved in criminal activity,” she says.

With this stronger focus on the next generation of leaders, Chris says the future for the La Perouse LALC is bright.

“We’ve realised that our community is resilient and that our resistance to other pressures has been strong. That’s the reason why we have been here forever. I’d just encourage our young ones to get involved because the decisions we make today not only affect our future but the future of our kids.”