Salon adds a sense of style
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.
Felicity Westlake receives a cut thanks to the social salon at Wilurarra Creative.