From the beginning, the vision and leadership of the Warrigunya project has come from Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal men in Fulham Correctional Centre (FCC) who need and will use a facility like Warrigunya were consulted and made key decisions with regard to the project such as the name and the overall design of the building. Warrigunya is based on Self Determination – the concept of Aboriginal people holding the power, determining what they need and how it will be delivered.
Warrigunya has the potential to be life building, restoring purpose
and meaning to Aboriginal men to attain holistic well being.
We believe the only way the Gap will be closed between Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal society in Australia is through working together to re-balance the power dynamic. Colonisation has resulted too often, in a loss of power, poorer life outcomes, and Intergenerational trauma for Aboriginal society. Many non Aboriginal Australians are aware of the injustice, on many levels, of European settlement and wish to assist with righting wrongs. As members and directors of Warrigunya, non Aboriginal people are expected to use their skills, knowledge and talents to support Aboriginal people to realise their vision for their people.
The project commenced in earnest in January 2020 with a meeting of a group of Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people who understood the issues encountered by Aboriginal men on leaving prison. After a couple more meetings, the group put together a document. Entitled “Proposal for Supported Housing for Aboriginal Men at risk of Recidivism or Incarceration in Gippsland” it brought statistical information, academic research and the vision for Warrigunya together.
Warrigunya is about a hand up not a handout
Aboriginal men are overrepresented in Australia’s prisons, there is no single cause for this, it is the end result of over 200 years of Colonisation. The only way this situation will improve is for Aboriginal people to lead the way. They know what is best for their people and they need the support and resources to bring change. Warrigunya has the potential not only to reduce recidivism, to assist men to access the future they envision for themselves, financial stability, cultural strength and connection to family and community.
In July 2020 the proposal was circulated and attracted the attention of ACSO who made contact and an offer of applying for and administering a grant on Warrigunya’s behalf to build an accommodation facility. Wellington Shire connected Warrigunya with Radial Timber which generously offered a 50 year peppercorn lease of 20 acres on a freshly harvested timber plantation site on Four Mile Creek Road, Darriman.
Warrigunya became incorporated as a Not for Profit organization on 22 February 2021 under the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC). 22 members founded the organization, with a majority of Aboriginal people on Warrigunya’s membership and board. By the end of 2021 membership had grown to 49; 28 Aboriginal and 21 Non-Aboriginal. As a Not for Profit, any funds raised will be put back into the operation of the facility for the benefit of the men.
During 2021, funding for the build was secured through Homes Victoria, the facility was designed and the Planning Permit was approved. 2022 will see the turning of the first sod and