$60,000 over two years
Creating a healing space and keeping culture strong for the Mornington Peninsula’s growing Aboriginal population, was the driving force behind employing a gathering place coordinator for the Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association.
Willum Warrain is the only Aboriginal organisation servicing Indigenous community members on the Mornington Peninsula and has just turned four years old.
The Victorian Government’s Indigenous Health Strategy, ‘Koolin Balit’, identified the Southern Metro Region of the state as having the second fastest growing Aboriginal population in Victoria.
Considering the well-documented health and wellbeing gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians and the evidence that community engagement through a place-based approach can improve the social determinants of health, Willum Warrain’s Aboriginal board has worked hard to put in place a ‘one stop shop’ for access to services, activities and programs in a culturally appropriate setting. The aim: Willum Warrain is a place where people can come and feel safe and comfortable, right from their first visit.
With the help of a $60,000 grant over two years from the Ross Trust, the board employed Gathering Place Coordinator, Karsten Poll, who has built Willum Warrain into a thriving hub for the local Indigenous population.
Responsible for the running of Willum Warrain and its programs, he now oversees an organisation where people gather as a supportive community to undertake activities such as the community kitchen for healthy and affordable eating, men’s and women’s groups, a bush playgroup, traditional tool-making workshops, the “us mob” program for disengaged youth, support and linkages for members of the Stolen Generations, not to mention running well-attended Reconciliation, NAIDOC and Christmas events.
These programs are requested by the Aboriginal community, for the Aboriginal community.
There are approximately 1200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living on the Peninsula, with over 1500 in Frankston and 2500 in the Cranbourne area, who are all potential visitors to the gathering place and its programs.
Attendance at the gathering place, membership (up by 66 per cent) and participation at events, demonstrate the value the local community is placing on this safe community gathering place.
From a wider community perspective, cultural awareness and educational activities with local schools, groups and organisations across the Mornington Peninsula are also promoting community cohesion, understanding and reconciliation within the broader population.