Our Community Services Team cover many areas of support to our community.
KOORIE PRE-SCHOOL ASSISTANT PROGRAM (KPSA)
Winda-Mara's team of KPSA’s are working hard to ensure that any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are eligible for Kinder are going or preparing to go. The team liaise between the Kindergartens and parents to try and make the process easy for enrolment in both 3 & 4-year-old Kinder. We cover Heywood, Portland, Hamilton and surrounding towns for this program.
Playgroups are run throughout the year and are supported by the KPSA's and Oz Child - Portland. Playgroups are ran in Heywood and Hamilton and have had a number of visiting services such as Maternal and Child Health and a Speech therapist.
Willarn Playgroup is currently on hold for Term 1 of 2024.
BUILDING THE DREAM & CULTURAL STRENGTHENING
Our focus is on each child and what they need to reach their goals. Our workers work with the whole family, supporting them work through any issues at school. A steering committee was established to engage with stakeholders such as the schools, KESO’s and SW TAFE.
The after school program runs in both Heywood and Hamilton for both Primary and Secondary students where a tutor is available for students and includes the children being transported to and from the program.
We continue to build and enhance children’s understanding of Culture and being connected to country theme into our programs, which allows children to explore and be strong in their identity.
"KARREETA KOORNONG MAAR"
Youth Mentoring Program
This new and exciting program for youth engages young people in the Heywood/Portland/Hamilton area and matching them with a Mentor within our community. This program includes young people and mentors participating in activities to see whether they connect, ensuring the participants needs and skills are appropriate. The program is very informal and is based on what the young people want to do and achieve.
Through this program we hope to increase the young people's awareness of culture and community through a range of activities such as cultural camps and activities, information sessions and team building exercises.
Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation manages 31 housing properties across Heywood, Portland and Hamilton - accommodating 60 Aboriginal people, with another 40 people on our housing waiting list. Our houses are located across three centres:
Heywood 20 houses
Portland 5 houses
Hamilton 6 houses
The Housing program is overseen by the Housing Sub-Committee and their hard work ensures the best possible outcomes for our tenants, the houses and Winda-Mara with the Sub Committee meeting monthly.
Eligibility to apply to go on the Winda-Mara's Housing List:
Must be Aboriginal or Parent of Aboriginal children
A member of Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation
Winda-Mara has a Housing Maintenance team to do the property maintenance. To download a Housing Maintenance form please click on the document below.
For more information on the Housing program or to apply for Housing please contact the Community Services Manager on 03 55270 000.
Housing continues to provide low-cost rental properties to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in Heywood, Hamilton and Portland. We are completing upgrade works to a high number of our properties which was a result from a combined ACCO submission across the state for major upgrades.
This process will enable us to become a registered housing provider. If successful we will be eligible to apply for funding in round 5 of the Big Housing Build, through Homes VIC, which will address the local housing crisis.
REGIONAL LOCAL JUSTICE PROGRAM
Our Regional Local Justice Program supports the community when dealing with the Sherriff, local police and court. The position operates the Community Based Orders program and ensure appropriate places are offered to each participant. The Justice Worker works closely with the Sherriff and can provide various activities for participants to engage with including artefact making, on country visits and support participants with referrals to support services.
FAMILY CENTRED APPROACH - PILOT PROGRAM
Winda-Mara received funding for a pilot program that has come out of the recommendations from the Aboriginal Justice Agreement, Phase 4. The program caters to the whole family with assessments and supports tailored to strengthen families in a way that is culturally responsive safe, and trauma informed.
The model has been developed with the objectives to:
empower and further strengthen Aboriginal families with an individual member at risk of or engaged in the justice system.
leverage the natural role and strength of Aboriginal families, with culture as a critical protective factor for all family members, to support better outcomes for individual family members.
We have 5 targets for this project, which will give families and the team time to ensure that all agreed KPI’s are being meet and families have improved outcomes.
Home and Community Care Program for Younger People (HACC-PYP)
This service is provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients who are under the age of 50 and meet the criteria. Clients receive culturally appropriate services to enable them to remain living independently in their own homes. We work to promote social interaction and community connection by providing wellbeing group sessions. Clients social, emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing are supported through all services delivered. We also offer garden maintenance and a connection with support services.
Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)
The aim of our CHSP program is to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients with high quality support to maximise their independence at home and within the community. We provide culturally appropriate support to clients over the age of 50 who are eligible for our services based on their current needs. Maintaining a client’s independence and providing activities to support their social, emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing are our goals. We provide domestic assistance, garden maintenance, goods, equipment and assistive technology and some limited personal care.
In 2023, CHSP increasing service delivery
Our Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) has grown with 5 workers now employed in this area enabling us to increase our capacity of service delivery. We offer our Elders and over 50’s a service, we have a genuine connection with clients and go above and beyond for them. Group activities are increasing as our community are keen to participate in social engagement activities.
Local Elders coming together
As our Elders and over 50’s are continue to gain confidence returning to group activities and participate in regular outings following the COVID-19 period, we collaborated with Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative, Dhauwurd Wurrung Elderly & Community Health Service Inc. and Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative to plan a meeting of the mobs in a two-day event. Elders from all four areas came together for day one at Tae Rak Aquaculture Centre for a Welcome to Country, smoking ceremony, Elders talk, mini tour and afternoon tea. Day two was spent touring the Ngootyoong Mara Cultural Healing Centre with a smoking ceremony and BBQ lunch including musical entertainment. It was enjoyed by all who attended, giving opportunity for families to come together, learning, and sharing out on country and having deadly feeds together. Feedback was very positive from all attendees, with suggestions for the next one to be held in slightly warmer weather.
BRINGING THEM HOME
The Bringing Them Home Program facilitates healing, improvements in wellbeing, stronger connections to community and strengthening of Aboriginal identity in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families who have been affected by past policies and practices of forced removal. The goals are to prioritise, assist and support local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are members of the Stolen Generations to trace their family origin, connect with their Aboriginal culture and identity and link in with relevant support services, for instance mental health and research services.
New family connections
In October 2022, we received a referral from the Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT). There was a client, who was 69 years old who thought he was an only child, and non-Indigenous. He had been contacted by the Carlton Football Club, asking if they could interview him about his Dad, as he was the first Aboriginal person to play for the Carlton Football Club. He said “Aboriginal? Am I Aboriginal?”. This is when he contacted the KHT, to investigate more about his heritage.
After some initial investigation, we discovered that his father had a family before marrying his mother. His father and previous partner had 5 children, so he has two sisters and three brothers, as well as about 120 nieces and nephews. Three of his siblings had passed away before he had found out that he was Aboriginal. Our Bringing Them Home Worker organised for him to meet with his brother and his wife, and then his sister, and some of his nieces and great nieces.
We showed him Lake Condah, including the birthplace of his father, and looked at other sites of significance. The Elders had morning tea with him and his family so he could make that local community connection. We are currently in the process of organising a family reunion for the whole family.