Leichardt One Mile Community Centre explores, connects and builds relationships with First Nations community members through thoughtful work projects and practices such as their Yarning Shed, hosting a Voice to Parliament and providing support and financial assistance to community Elders for sorry business.
Leichardt One Mile Coordinator Kym Tuuta and their Community Connect Worker Emma Eastwood describe the Yarning Shed as a safe, weekly space for First Nations Men to come together to connect with culture while discussing important issues impacting the community including mental health, domestic and family violence and crises responses.
“Yarning Shed provides space for men to catch up on Saturdays to discuss brain health, connection to country, culture, yarning and dreamtime stories from Elders. [They engage in learning about] the knowledge keepers and generational impacts from DFV, alcohol & drugs exposure, mob expectations and adjusting to crisis situations. A BBQ breakfast and lunch is provided too.
They come together to support each other through challenges they are experiencing and getting assistance from their peers.”
“One gentleman attending Yarning Shed that says it helps develop interpersonal skills to improve how he communicates with others.”
Yarning Shed also incorporates guest speakers from a range of organisations including the local hospital, other First Nations Support Agencies, Community Elders and a barber. Kym and Emma explained they plan to have future opportunities for culture camps and reconnection to country for the group.
“Future re-connection to country and culture camps will be provided for the group to physically experience traditional storytelling, identifying native flora used for traditional methods such as didgeridoo, clap sticks & boomerang making, learning the dreamtime stories and their unique totems. They will also learn traditional bush skills taught by elders.”
Their Centre has also been successful in receiving the 2023 Positive Relationship Grant from the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships. The funding has allowed them to provide training to build capacity in Elders to respond to DFV. In addition to this, Kym and Emma will be providing an ongoing peer support group for the Elders to debrief and have space to share and discuss their experiences.
Their continued effort to build connection has had significant impacts, with their Centre hosting a Voice to Parliament, which provided an opportunity for First Nations community members to share their perspectives.
“We hosted Voice to Parliament with Shayne Neumann and Attorney General of Australia Mark Dreyfus, giving our First Nation people the opportunity to speak with them to share their thoughts and sharing with them the significance of what a Voice to Parliament will mean.”
Their ongoing work has also had significant impacts on the lives of individual people in the community.
“We recently had a young male who was displaced and found himself living in his car. Through support and providing opportunities to reconnect in the community he has found employment and close to securing a rental. He has also joined the Yarning Shed and attends weekly.”
When asked how their Centre explores the strengths and challenges faced by their community, Kym and Emma highlighted their Emergency Relief and Community Connect Programs as key avenues for insight into the current demands in their local area.
“We are seeing an increase of displaced persons and food & housing insecurity from community members regardless of employment, welfare status etc. With the food insecurity crisis, through our partnership with second bite we are able to provide bread, bakery, grocery, fruit and vegetables. Emergency relief provides non-perishable food hampers, plus our other partnerships help with creating dignity packs and displaced persons packs. Through generous donations received from the public & various other organisational partnerships, we are also able to assist with clothing, blankets & bedding, household items, baby items, pet food, disability items such as walkers & wheelchairs and furniture/white goods when able.”
Their Centre provides Giving Table and Giving Shed programs which allow individuals and local organisations to donate clothes, furniture, crockery and other items for community members to take as needed. They also provide relief in the form of a street library and pantry, making donations accessible to those who wish to remain anonymous and who don’t yet feel ready to enter the Centre.
The ongoing, relational work of Leichardt One Mile Community Centre provides significant value not only to individual members of the community but contributes to the overall wellbeing of the community more broadly. Kym and Emma acknowledge that the work of their Centre wouldn’t be possible without the support of their volunteers and generosity of community members.
“We rely on our volunteers; they help us to manage our donations and keep our partnerships strong.”
“We are also grateful for our community members for donating what they can to strengthening the community whether it is to our street pantry or clothes to those in need. Plus, we are thankful for the strong professional partnerships we turn to, ensuring our community members are empowered through choice.”
Published: June 2023
Written By: Taylor Bast