Man Craft project is reap­ing re­wards for com­mu­nity

Broome Advertiser - - News - Robert Dougherty

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.

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