An Aboriginal-led not-for-profit organisation that seeks to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children and families in Canberra’s north-west has been launched.
Yerrabi Yurwang Child and Family Aboriginal Corporation will provide holistic services that are managed by the Aboriginal community.
Yerrabi Yurwang board member Selina Walker said community members had identified a gap in the ACT that the organisation would seek to fill. The community-led organisation will provide services, support, activities and programs for children and families.
“It’s going to be a culturally strong and safe place for Aboriginal people to gather,” Ms Walker said.
“It will provide family-led, strong support for families, information advocacy and we hope to increase the access for our children and young families.”
Initially, Yerrabi Yurwang will provide direct family support, but it will work on growing the service through partnerships to deliver access to housing, health services, early intervention, community, culture and legal and employment assistance.
“We’ll be running parenting programs, elders’ gatherings, play groups, language groups, men’s and women’s groups so it’s not just about focusing on the kids but focusing on the adults – the parents and the carers,” Ms Walker said.
“We’ve had ideas around deadly eating and cooking, bush tucker and community garden and yarning circles.”
Ms Walker said the organisation hoped to have an Aboriginal daycare centre, which was identified as one of the gaps in the ACT. She said there was also a gap in services for children aged between two and eight.
“There are programs for newborns up to two years old and then there is nothing. A lot of school holiday programs are either six or eight and up,” she said.
“We’ve got a lot of families and parents that have to work and so if you are four years old you are kind of stuck nowhere, particularly during the school holidays.”
Yerrabi Yurwang does not yet have accommodation, and Ms Walker said the organisation was now seeking funding and support.
“Following the launch we are going to have some questions around that and promoting the service,” she said.
“We’re going to be applying for grants … we’ve got a business plan to run from and we are just having more conversations.”
Ms Walker said discussions with other board members about forming the organisation began about 18 months ago.
“We all had concerns about the gap and had discussions. We met up once a month and it progressed from there,” she said.
Ms Walker said the gap was most prominent in Canberra’s north-west.
Yerrabi Yurwang means “walk strong”.