Man Craft project is reaping rewards for community
The sound of whirring power tools has become music to the ears of a remote Kimberley community that is reinventing itself through reaping what it sows.
The residents have banded together to create furniture from recycled materials, as well as boomerangs and spears for hunting at a workshop in Bidyadanga, 190km south of Broome.
Since opening in March, about 25 local volunteers have constructed a 3.2m table of African mahogany for the Kullarri Regional Communities Incorporated office and $33,000 worth of furniture for the Health Aged Care Facility, including picnic settings, desks, beds and tables.
The Bidyadanga Man Craft workshop is the brainchild of Agunya founder Andy Greig, supported by KRCI, Many Rivers, ranger groups, Yawuru transition to work and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.
“The workshop is a franchise of the Agunya workshop in Broome,” Mr Greig said.
“It’s a replicate-able model to take out to communities, to provide alternative activities for men around the Community Development Program and work for the dole projects.”
The aim is “to provide the men with more meaningful activities relating to their bushcraft skills, and make it more fun and engaging — with recycled materials”, Mr Greig said.
“The intention is that the BMCW is a co-operative entity to help these men build their skills to run the entity as a business and provide services to the community — initially furniture and later maintenance such as fencing, air conditioning, welding,” he said.
“This has happened sooner than I anticipated because the community has stepped forward.
“This is eight years now that this has been in the making.”
The workshop building comprises a concretefloored shed where metal and woodworking activities are carried out under white card construction qualified guidance; an open-sided shed for bushcraft, yarning, language and traditional cooking in a fire pit; and a lean-to room for a gallery, office and break room.
Assistant supervisor Aaron Shandley said the project was already producing benefits in Bidyadanga.
“There are a lot of things you can say about the program, a lot of boys getting out of their houses and doing stuff for the community,” he said.
“Most of the furniture is made from wood, (and the) local boys are making boomerangs as well.”
“Making things from wood, I love it —–I’d rather do this than mowing lawns or picking up rubbish.”
Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange chief executive Tania Baxter said the space brought together different age groups in a positive learning environment.
“The Bidyadanga Man Craft workshop provides opportunities for local men to share their knowledge in making traditional artefacts, enhance skills they have and use their creativity in building furniture,” she said. “As the largest Aboriginal Community in Western Australia and being located 180km from Broome, we do not have the same access to services and programs available to people in Broome, even though we have significant need.”
Agunya's Andy Greig, with assistant supervisor Aaron Shandley at work in the background.