Local Aboriginal Networks
The Local Aboriginal Networks (LANs) bring Aboriginal people together at the local level to:
- set priorities
- develop community plans
- improve social cohesion
- empower Aboriginal Victorians to participate in civic and community life.
These voluntary community networks provide a safe and welcoming space for the Aboriginal community to connect, share, learn and lead. LANs provide a critical and effective channel to engage and celebrate the diversity within the Aboriginal community.
Five year plan
The statewide vision of LANs is 'Strong Culture, Engaged People, Confident Communities'.
Local community plans, which enable this vision, feed into the Victorian Local Aboriginal Networks Five Year Plan 2016-2020. The five year plan has 6 priority areas - strengthening culture, support for young people, economic participation, building a stronger LAN, community planning and partnerships and working with local government.
Participation in LANs occurs in many different ways, depending on personal circumstances, what is being progressed locally or other factors. The purpose of LANs is to connect, prioritise, implement and evaluate. Of course, people can participate at all or any of these points as appropriate.
This purpose is achieved with many valued partners. While all LANs are different depending on local circumstances they all promote and celebrate a culturally safe, welcoming space.
There are 39 LANs across Victoria, supported by 12 Aboriginal Community Development Brokers.
Barwon South West
- Shane Bell - Geelong, Warrnambool, Framlingham
- Sandra Bell- Portland, Heywood, Hamilton
- Larry Kanoa - Central Highfields (Ballarat), Wimmera (Horsham), Halls Gap
- Thelma Chilly - Yuranga (Mildura), Swan Hill, Marawarpina (Robinvale)
- Deborah Webster - Bendigo, Kerang, Echuca
- Josh Atkinson - Shepparton, Seymour, Kyabram
- Darren Moffitt - Dirrawarra (Wangaratta), Wodonga, Gadhaba (Mansfield)
- Leonie Solomon Green - Morwell, Traralgon, Sale
- Alice Pepper - Orbost/Cann River, Lakes Entrance, Lake Tyers, Bairnsdale
- Barry Firebrace-Briggs - Urban South (St Kilda), Frankston, Dandenong, Mornington Peninsula (Hastings)
- Debbie Evans- Maribyrnong, Wyndham/Hobsons Bay, Hume, Whittlesea
- VACANT - Northern Metro (Thornbury/Fitzroy), Inner East (Ringwood/Croydon), Healesville
Gathering places have been identified by LANs as a way of contributing to all 6 priority areas of the five year plan. A number of gathering places are being established or are operating as a key aspiration of the LANs. Gathering places are being realised with many partners such as other parts of the Victorian Government, local government and non-government organisations. However it is often the LANs where the idea is conceived and where the idea gets progressed within the Aboriginal community.
Willum Warrain – Mornington Peninsula
In March 2014 Willum Warrain (place by the sea) was opened following almost 10 years of planning and hard work. Koolin Balit, through Closing the Health Gap funding made this possible. Willum Warrain provides information, support and referral services, health and wellbeing programs, art and culture programs and links between the Aboriginal community and the broader local community.
Visit the Willum Warrain Facebook page.
Nair Mar Djamba – Frankston
Frankston City Council, along with Koolin Balit were crucial in the opening of this gathering place in 2015. The gathering place is a welcoming safe place to improve Aboriginal health, cultural, recreation and social activities. It is a meeting place to provide opportunities to further advance and improve the health of Aboriginal people of all genders and ages. Other services also utilise the meeting spaces. Importantly, the local Aboriginal community in Frankston have worked tirelessly to open the doors and to keep them open.
Find out more about the Nair Mar Djamba gathering place.
Casey Aboriginal Gathering Place – Doveton
In July 2016 an Aboriginal gathering place enabled by the City of Casey, was opened. Council refurbished what was previously a disused early childhood centre for the local Aboriginal community, recognising Casey has the highest Aboriginal population in metropolitan Melbourne.
A range of programs are being run from the gathering place for people of all ages. They are in response to feedback and the current and future needs of the Aboriginal community.
Wyndham Aboriginal Community Centre - Wyndham/Hobsons Bay
In 2013 a forum of key decision-makers and stakeholders came together to develop a partnership model for strengthening Aboriginal community, culture and services locally.
Through state government funding (Community Infrastructure Fund), Wyndham Council secured support for a feasibility study to plan for the Wyndham Aboriginal Community Centre. The Wyndham Aboriginal Community Centre Committee (WACCC) and council worked together to secure state government funding of $1.5m for the Wyndham Aboriginal Community Centre. Council than matched this significant funding dollar for dollar, demonstrating their strong commitment again.
Currently there is an interim space within the grounds of Victoria University (Hoppers Crossing) supported by a Centre coordinator. This role has been funded by Wyndham Council and Department of Health and Human Services.
Find out more about the Wyndham Aboriginal Community Centre.
Burraja Cultural Centre – Wodonga
In late 2008 with support of the Wodonga Aboriginal Network (WAN), a community forum was held to progress future plans for the Burraja Cultural Centre, which had ceased operating.
The local community wanted the centre to be revived; to become a hub for strengthening culture, well-being and enterprise of Aboriginal people.
The community established the Burraja Executive Group, made up of community volunteers to develop a governance and operational model to open Burraja and build it into a sustainable enterprise. Gateway Health in Wodonga auspiced this project, an arrangement that continues today. Burraja have offered cultural activities since reopening and remain financially viable without external funding due to the commitment, dedication and passion of the volunteers of the executive group.
In an exciting development this year Burraja was funded by Department of Justice and Regulation to deliver cultural programs to local Koorie youth until June 2018. This project involves the part time employment of a Cultural Activities Officer, a great outcome for Burraja, as well as the local Aboriginal person in this role.
Find out more about the Burraja Cultural Centre.