In November 2016, Wangaratta’s Local Aboriginal Network (LAN) known as the Dirrawarra Indigenous Network (DIN), engaged consultants All-iN Productions Pty Ltd to produce a feasibility study for a Gathering Place in Wangaratta. The project brief was informed by the Dirrawarra Indigenous Network Community Plan 2011-2016 and is aligned to Koolin Balit directions for Aboriginal health, and the Victorian Local Aboriginal Networks Five Year Plan (2016-2020). Specifically, the feasibility study provides the DIN with a roadmap for moving forward in establishing a viable and sustainable Gathering Place in Wangaratta.
The project was managed by a Project Steering Group (PSG) comprised of DIN members and stakeholder representatives under the auspice of the Central Hume Primary Care Partnership (CHPCP).
The DIN Community Plan recommended the establishment of a Gathering Place in Wangaratta to provide an accessible, culturally safe and appropriate base from which outreach health services, meetings, functions, and gatherings could occur. It should be stressed that community members view a Gathering Place as meeting not only primary health needs, but areas that impact the physical, spiritual, cultural, social and emotional well-being of an individual, family and community.
Feasibility study consultations and research concluded that a Gathering Place for Wangaratta is needed, viable, and sustainable. A partnership governance model is advisable, with an initial auspice period for capacity building, while an appropriate space is accessed and adjusted, or built for purpose.
Consultations also refined the vision for use, specific functions and outcomes for the Gathering Place. Existing strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities were identified to inform recommendations going forward.
In 2015 the Indigenious Health Equity Unit (IHEU) at The University of Melbourne was commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services to undertake an evaluation of 13 identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gathering places accross the state. The focus of the evaluation was to explore the extent to which gathering places in Victoria impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Isalnder communities across the state.