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Victoria's LANs gather to reflect on achievements in 2017

More than 100 community members from across Victoria’s Local Aboriginal Networks (LANs) came together in Creswick for the second LANs State-wide Gathering in 2017.

The LANs State-wide Gathering provided an opportunity to reflect on key self-determination outcomes achieved throughout the year,  while developing next steps in the implementation of the LANs Five Year Plan, which was launched in 2016 by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins.

The LANs Community Awards were introduced this year to celebrate achievements in the community against the six priority areas outlined in the LANs Five Year Plan.

The six award recipients were announced at the Gathering, recognised for their commitment to the LANs Five Year Plan and for bringing Aboriginal people together while promoting strong communities and social cohesion.

Josh Smith, Executive Director, Aboriginal Victoria presented the awards at the Gathering to the LANs brokers involved in the six community-led programs.

The Local Aboriginal Networks are at the heart of self-determination in action in Victoria. They are the voice for Victoria’s Aboriginal communities and help to lead the decision making around the important issues that directly affect their local communities.

- Josh Smith, Executive Director, Aboriginal Victoria.

Over the last year, 39 LANs across the state engaged with over 2,600 Aboriginal Victorians.

The following six LANs programs were recognised in the inaugural LAN community awards:

Strengthening Culture: Bangarra Dance Theatre’s ‘Rekindling’ Program (Warrnambool Local Aboriginal Network)

The Bangarra Dance Theatre encouraged Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders secondary school-aged students to dance, inspiring pride, kinship and a sense of strength. Participants in the program researched and gathered stories with guidance from Elders within their communities, developing skills to produce thought provoking performances and community events.

Support for young people: Girls Mentoring Program (Bendigo Local Aboriginal Network)

The Girls Mentoring Program provides services to high school girls in year 10 to year 12, assisting, guiding and mentoring them into the health industry. The program has created opportunities for young Aboriginal women to develop a range of careers in the health sector.

Economic participation: Float Project (Lakes Entrance Local Aboriginal Network)

LAN Float Project participants joined with the Small Town Transformation Project for discussion over basket weaving. This provided networking opportunities for LAN participants and helped them to gain representation on the board of Wurrinbeena, as well as increased employment of Aboriginal artists through Wurrinbeena Aboriginal Arts Corporation.

Building a stronger LAN: Collaboration (Central Highlands Local Aboriginal Network)

The Central Highlands LAN has grown its activity though joint meeting with Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Group, Indigenous Family Violence Action Group and Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group. The collaboration has ensured it’s maintaining and developing strong links and relationships with the community and agencies who deliver a service to the Aboriginal community.

Community planning and partnerships: Deadly Race program (Hume Local Aboriginal Network)

Based on ‘The Amazing Race’ format, The Deadly Race is focused on Aboriginal cultural heritage and identity. The event is run annually with partnerships that include The Long Walk, Wandarra Aboriginal Corporation and Melbourne Victory.

Working with local government: Working with Wyndham Council (Wyndham Local Aboriginal Network)

The Wyndham LAN participants have been involved in the development of a local Aboriginal Community Centre. A grant of $1.5 million grant from the Victorian Government was matched with a $1.5 million grant from Wyndham Council to build the centre. This initiative has created a strong partnership with the council and there will be also be infrastructural art incorporated into the building by an Aboriginal artist.

Photo: Josh Smith, Executive Director of Aboriginal Victoria with the LAN Community Award recipients.