Sa­lon adds a sense of style

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - John Ely

No mat­ter where you live or who you are, at some stage you are go­ing to need a hair­cut.

But for the peo­ple of the re­mote com­mu­nity of War­bur­ton in the north­ern Gold­fields, there is much more to a visit to the hair­dresser than a sim­ple cut or trim.

Hair­dresser Mel Balkan boarded a plane at Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der Air­port to join the so­cial sa­lon team at War­bur­ton arts or­gan­i­sa­tion Wil­u­rarra Cre­ative yes­ter­day.

Run­ning since 2009, the so­cial sa­lon is part of Wil­u­rarra’s range of op­por­tu­ni­ties for art-based so­cial en­gage­ment for War­bur­ton com­mu­nity mem­bers aged 16 to 30.

Through the sa­lon, mem­bers of the War­bur­ton com­mu­nity cut, colour and clean each other’s hair and pro­vide hair lice treat­ment for lo­cal chil­dren.

Ms Balkan has worked in so­cial hair­dress­ing in ru­ral Cam­bo­dia and else­where in Aus­tralia, but has never worked in a com­mu­nity like War­bur­ton be­fore.

The 32-year-old said she hoped to build on the foun­da­tion al­ready cre­ated at the Wil­u­rarra sa­lon and help build pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships in War­bur­ton.

“I find peo­ple are rough and shy with each other when the pro­ject first be­gins and by end of it … peo­ple are mas­sag­ing each other and be­ing re­ally gen­tle,” she said.

“You get to re­ally see peo­ple dis­arm and feel re­ally con­fi­dent and happy … that’s what I hope to see in War­bur­ton.”

The Wil­u­rarra sa­lon has been run­ning since 2009 and Ms Balkan said she was ex­cited to see what com­mu­nity mem­bers had al­ready achieved.

Wil­u­rarra Cre­ative di­rec­tor Sil­vano Gior­dano said the sa­lon, apart from pro­vid­ing a help­ful ser­vice in War­bur­ton, also had amaz­ing so­cial ben­e­fits.

“Mel won’t ac­tu­ally be do­ing the ser­vice her­self, it will be all the younger peo­ple that de­liver those ser­vices to the com­mu­nity and their fam­i­lies,” he said.

“That gives them a sense of pride and pur­pose and self-es­teem that comes out from be­ing in­volved in ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Mr Gior­dano said the sa­lon’s abil­ity to help forge pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships had ex­tended to lo­cal health work­ers and po­lice.

“Of­ten we’ve had po­lice that have come in to Wil­u­rarra to get their hair done,” he said.

“For (of­fi­cers) to re­late to them in a pos­i­tive way, for re­la­tion­ship build­ing, is an amaz­ing thing.”

The di­rec­tor said he thought many towns and cities in the wider Gold­fields re­gion could ben­e­fit from a so­cial sa­lon.

Hair­dresser Mel Balkan is off to join the so­cial sa­lon in War­bur­ton, work­ing along­side Wil­u­rarra Cre­ative di­rec­tor Sil­vano Gior­dano.

Pic­tures: Wil­u­rarra Cre­ative

Felic­ity West­lake re­ceives a cut thanks to the so­cial sa­lon at Wil­u­rarra Cre­ative.

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