Deal signed to re­store Mar­rib­ank

Great Southern Herald - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

A grand plan to re­store an old mis­sion full of mem­o­ries, both good and bad, for Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple in the Great South­ern, has been signed and sealed with prom­ises of a pro­ject to heal those who called it home.

Through the early and mid-1900s chil­dren of tra­di­tional own­ers from all over re­gional WA were stolen from their par­ents and taken to places such as Mar­rib­ank Mis­sion, 30km north east of Ko­jonup.

While be­ing re­moved from their fam­i­lies was heart-break­ing, the kids of Mar­rib­ank found a new fam­ily in each other, and now con­sider them­selves broth­ers and sis­ters.

A five-year agree­ment be­tween Mar­rib­ank Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion, South­ern Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion and the Shire of Ko­jonup was signed at Kodja Place last Satur­day to put the wheels in mo­tion on a plan to usher in a new era for the for­mer mis­sion.

South­ern Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion chair­man Glen Col­bung said watch­ing Mar­rib­ank fall into dis­re­pair had been like a “fes­ter­ing sore” for the for­mer res­i­dents.

“To many of them, Mar­rib­ank is home be­cause they were taken away from their par­ents when they were lit­tle,” he said.

“The only fam­ily they knew was the other kids there with them.

“It will bring a lot of har­mony and wellbeing to those peo­ple who are no longer kids but they were kids when they were put in there.”

Mr Col­bung said the pro­ject would bring clo­sure for all the years the Mar­rib­ank kids spent at the mis­sion.

Mar­rib­ank Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion busi­ness devel­op­ment of­fi­cer Leon Wynne said the pro­ject would see live-in care­tak­ers re­turn to the for­mer mis­sion to over­see the fa­cil­ity.

“Over the next cou­ple of years we will have a work for the dole pro­gram to clean it up and do some small restora­tion, re­move rub­bish that shouldn’t be there and have a pres­ence out there,” he said.

“We have a five-year plan to re­store the houses there and to, I guess, get it ready for tourism and pos­si­bly even farm stays.

“The (Mar­rib­ank kids) are run­ning it, they are own­ing the pro­ject, it gives some­thing for their kids to look for­ward to.”

Mr Wynne said the pro­ject part­ners would seek fur­ther spon­sor­ship and vol­un­teer as­sis­tance to help bring the Mar­rib­ank pro­ject to life.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

For­mer Mar­rib­ank res­i­dents Ralph Edg­ill, Jennifer Jones and Garry Ry­der, Mar­rib­ank Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion chair­wom­anCaron Wynne, Shire of Ko­jonup pres­i­dent Ron­nie Fleay and MAC vice-chair­man Ti­mothy Flow­ers.

Pic­ture: CNES/Air­bus, Google

An aerial view of Mar­rib­ank, north-east of Ko­jonup.

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