The last census recorded 1305 people who identified as Aboriginal living on the MP. Many live in areas of lowest SES, ie Capel Sound and Hastings. One in ten people accessing the case management at Southern Peninsula Community Support and Information Centre identify as Aboriginal.
Willum Warrain is a community centre that focuses on healing and growth through cultural awareness, learning and practice. It recently celebrated its fifth birthday and proudly boasts more than 700 members, both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal.
There are nearly 400 Koorie students in primary and secondary schools on the MP, many of whom Willum Warrain believe receive little or no cultural education.
Aboriginal kids are 18 times more likely to come in contact with the criminal justice system; 11 times less likely to complete Year 12; 8 times more likely to have experienced family violence.
Cultural identity can be a very difficult journey for Koorie kids living in an assimilated world. Culture is increasingly understood to be a significant protective factor in the lives of Aboriginal children and youth.
For many Aboriginal people, Willum Warrain has provided their first means of finding out their heritage, where they come from and who they are. Some of the stories are unbearably touching. The Women’s Group, which MPF supports, has created a space for healing and growth through belonging. One of their major achievements has been the creation of the Possum’s Cloak, a wonderful mantle that empowers women to find and be themselves, to be proud of their culture and pass it on.
This tiny centre is growing steadily with an increasing base of support including the local Shire and philanthropic trusts. Its visionary EO, Peter Aldenhoven and his committed team, have great ideas about a future that is fully sustainable and empowering, a future that incorporates greater knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal practices and their application to the modern world.