RSD -- off to a flying start in 2012

Posted: Monday, May 14, 2012 - 11:15pm

Wilcannia is about to get its own Men’s Shed with funding for the project having been provided by Wilcannia’s RSD office. RSD will fund the refurbishment and fitting out of a Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) owned shed situated at the rear of Wilcannia’s LALC office. When finished the shed will include a BBQ area for men and their families to enjoy as well as fitness, woodworking and general mechanical & maintenance equipment.

Local RSD Coordinator Zoe Dobson (photo tba) explains ‘RSD prioritises the importance of supporting the sustainability of community owned assets and that is why we’re fixing up an Aboriginal community owned property instead of funding a new agency or privately controlled building. The shed will provide all local men with a welcoming space in which they can make furniture, hold meetings, work out and share stories over a cuppa. The shed will also provide a male space from which men’s services and programs can be run in private avoiding any shame about men getting health, family, legal and wellbeing support if they need it’.

RSD has also spoken with the Coordinator of the Wilcannia Women & Children’s Safe House, Delece Manton, about outreaching support services to males from the men’s shed in an effort to support families in coming back together healthier, stronger and safer. Zoe said ‘Delece and her staff have shown a real commitment to working with the whole family towards identifying, addressing and resolving issues impacting on family unity and wellbeing. The Safe House staff are focused on taking a holistic approach to family violence issues and this is a really practical and positive shift for Wilcannia geared toward family unity and community harmony’.

RSD have also funded Maari Ma health to employ a Wilcannia Men’s Program Coordinator who will work with RSD, the LALC, the Community Working Party (CWP) and Wilcannia’s new men’s group the Paakantji Men’s Dance & Culture Group to identify and organise events, programs, activities and services tailored to meet the needs of Wilcannia’s men. Zoe said ‘the RSD funding of a Men’s Program Coordinator provides local employment but also makes sure that local men are in control of who provides male services and how those services are provided. The shed and the Coordinator position together will give Wilcannia men a real voice and assist in making them feel valued and supported in their roles as fathers, partners, leaders and mentors in Wilcannia. As the RSD Coordinator I’m truly excited about having worked with Owen Whyman, Jack Beetson, William Bates and Bob Davis in getting such a practical and promising partnership between local men, service providers and government up and running – working together eases the load on all of us and strengthens the positive momentum running through Wilcannia at the moment’. RSD has also ensured that the shed works are awarded to local contractors, ensuring the project leads entirely to local employment.

RSD has also provided funding to the LALC for the employment of a trainee LALC CEO. ‘RSD funding has been provided to enable the LALC to train and support a local Aboriginal community member in running the LALC in the future. Government is genuinely committed to supporting local Governance & Leadership by providing realistic and practical support to communities interested in running their own affairs. After all a community controlled, respectfully governed and ethically managed LALC is the best case scenario for Wilcannia and RSD is extremely proud of working with the LALC’s Acting CEO, Jack Beetson, and the CWP Chair William Bates in developing this governance & leadership traineeship opportunity for Wilcannia’ Zoe said.

The RSD funded Wilcannia Arts & Economic Enterprise Development Officer, Eddy Harris, has also hit the deck running in 2012. Eddy has been working closely with local artists, Wilcannia Arts, Wilcannia Central School and West Darling Arts in generating a buzz about the up-coming opening of Wilcannia’s Art Centre. The Art Centre, donated to Wilcannia Arts is currently being renovated and will provide Wilcannia with a fantastic tourism attraction where tourists can buy art, watch art works being made and engage with local artists. Zoe said ‘Eddy is a real can do kind of guy and he has been working hard at generating excitement amongst local artists about the Art Centre. RSD strives to support the community in getting local economic enterprise up and running and we have funded Eddy’s position for 2 years to give the project a real chance at getting up and going. The Aboriginal arts scene is one of the most obvious untapped opportunities in terms of Wilcannia’s economic opportunity & the Art Centre will see local artists earning good money for their hard work, providing them and their families with more income and more life choices’.

Last week also saw the first of 2 RSD funded RSPCA animal health clinics in Wilcannia. The clinics were a great success with the RSPCA team busy all day both days de-sexing, worming, micro-chipping & treating local pets. The RSPCA will be back to deliver the second RSD funded clinic in the next 6 months.

And finally the RSD funded installation of a commercial cool room at Wilcannia Central School has been completed. The cool room will improve local students’ capacity to grow, store and eat healthy fresh food as well as providing the school with handy equipment for the school based hospitality training program. Zoe commented ‘the Central School is bending over backwards to provide a smorgasbord of interesting, practical, stimulating learning experiences for Wilcannia’s kids and RSD is keen to support any initiative aimed at engaging local youth with learning and development opportunities. The cool room will also work in well with the School’s Stephanie Alexander project which is a really exciting hands on learning initiative secured for Wilcannia by the school’s Principal Michelle Nicholson’.