Achievements & Past Programs
1School Holiday Program
The school holiday program involves teams of volunteers running activities for the children of the Mowanjum community during each school holiday with assistance from adults within the community. The Boab Network combined with other programs with similar goals of supporting our young people in order to deliver the best school holiday programs possible. The activities were aimed to keep the young people in the community engaged during times when fewer organised activities are available to them. The programs aimed to provide informal education, role modelling, friendship and the teaching of important skills. They provided opportunities for the children and youth to visit Perth and their traditional country.
“The Boab Network has been really good, especially around holiday times. … When the activities have finished the kids come back home and go to sleep.” – Kirsty Burgu
“If the Boab Network wasn’t around, we would be worse off. Just for the small amount of time that you guys are here, you guys really make a difference. The kids are happy that the Boab Network is around. After the Boab Network has gone, then it is back to the same thing.” – Vincent Bear
The Boab Network recognises the fact that the people of the Mowanjum Community suffer from very high rates of chronic diseases related to diet and lifestyle issues. These ongoing health issues affect their social, cultural and economic wellbeing and quality of life. School holiday programs aim to include activities promoting healthy lifestyle messages and to model good lifestyle choices, recognising the fact that lifelong habits can be best established in childhood. Through their holiday programs the Boab Network also works collaboratively with other community groups to reinforce “healthy living” messages.
In 2014, the Boab Network renovated an old ‘donga’ and established the Early Parently and Learning Centre with funding from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to employ Gail Cresswell a qualified Montessori teacher. All such funding ceased in 2015. Fortunately Gail was appointed by the Education Department to run the nearby Mowanjum’s Pre- Year 1 School in the Community.
“I couldn’t do what I do without the support of the Boab Network. … They are there for whatever I need.” – Gail Creswell
4Community Resource Centre
Through funding from the Royalties for Regions program the Boab Network has been able to set up a Community Resource Centre in the community giving the people access to computers, tablets and the internet. This has allowed access to banking, Centrelink and other government instrumentalities for adults and to on-line learning and social activities for all community members.
Opened in 2010 and expanded in 2012, the Community Resource Centre gave the people of Mowanjum access to 22 computers, 11 iPads, internet access and opportunity to purchase second hand laptop computers. The CRC enabled the people to develop skills that made the outside world more accessible. It provided a place for meetings and training with projection facilities and Westlink TV service. It is a safe place in the community for children and youth with the support of Manager, Lorel Holmes. Lorel also collected Mowanjum’s mail and distributed it from the CRC. There is a dedicated Centrelink phone, printer and computer providing free access to Government and Banking websites.
“If it wasn’t for the Boab Network we wouldn’t be able to run this service to the community.” – Lorel Holmes
Boab Network volunteers with the requisite skills have assisted the community to access funding to allow the employment of a deputy CEO to assist with the huge administrative load. They also assisted the community with issues around housing, maintenance, Art Centre administration and governance.
The Boab Network developed the business plan that enabled Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation to raise funds for yards, bores, fencing and a breeding herd so the pastoral station was operational for beef production and created employment and training opportunities for the community. A further business plan enabled MAC to install a centre pivot irrigation system for fattening beef cattle during the 8 month dry-season. The Boab Network school holiday program has often included a visit to the pastoral station to enable the young people to envision a future in the pastoral industry. However the station is currently leased as an agistment site for cattle for export and is generating valuable income for the community.
“The Pastoral Station gives us income, but the main thing is that our kids have a job when they grow up. They are not getting into town but getting out there and doing a job. They have to learn to ride a horse.” – Eddie Bear
The Ashley St Centre was a run-down building in Derby which had been used as a sobering up centre for local residents until it was“discovered” by Ross Gobby, John Tyrrell and Keith Bakker.
They were looking for a building that could be used as a school for young girls who would otherwise have dropped out of school after having babies in their teens. It was felt that if a location could be found where the girls could continue their education away from the main school, they may be willing to remain engaged with the education system.
As it happened, the building was already owned by the Derby Senior High School and so began a very productive relationship between the school and the Boab Network. After many discussions with school personnel and community elders, the building was extensively renovated by Boab Network volunteers, John and Keith, during a long hot summer in Derby and the house was redeveloped as a centre for teen mums where they could continue their education whilst accessing services provided to them and their babies by a range of community services in the fields of health and education.
There were many unique features of the Ashley St Centre including the coordination of services to come to the clients instead of relying on the young mums to come to them. This maximised positive outcomes for the mothers and their babies.
Vegetable gardens have been set up at the suggestion of a local elder and all community members encouraged to participate in growing and enjoying fresh vegetables. The success of the gardens has waxed and waned depending on the enthusiasm of the current caretakers. This project is waiting for a keen gardener to take it in hand and rejuvenate it!
9Justice Diversion Program
Involvement with the justice system is so common in the lives of many aboriginal communities that it has become almost a rite of passage for some. In view of the high rate of offending within the young population of Mowanjum this program was embraced as a potential route by which young people from the community may be exposed to material which might assist them to make better choices in their lives and thereby, ensure a better future for themselves and the community. The program, run by Robert Watson from Gulbujargu, and organised and supported by the Boab Network has been funded by grants obtained by the Boab Network.
The Boab Network has promoted and developed its support of the Mowanjum culture through their support of the annual Mowanjum Art and Culture Festival and by organising regular trips back to the people’s traditional land. Administrative and practical support for the festival has assisted the local people to present a world class event showcasing their colourful culture and instilling a respect for and knowledge of culture in their children and young people.
Regular trips back to traditional lands have assisted the elders to maintain their close spiritual ties to the land and to aid the transfer of cultural knowledge to the young people. These camping trips have encouraged the formation of strong friendships between Mowanjum people and Boab Network volunteers and given volunteers the opportunity to learn from the vast wealth of bush knowledge of the Mowanjum people who have been generous in their sharing.