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 Balit1 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 (full Report available).

The project was managed by a Project Steering Group (PSG) comprised of DIN members; Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service; Rural City of Wangaratta; the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Training; and other stakeholder representatives, under the auspice of the Central Hume Primary Care Partnership (CHPCP). Eight meetings were held over twelve months, and a consultant was contracted.

The DIN Community Plan 2011-2016 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.

The Consultant presented three governance scenarios at a workshop with the DIN in February 2017 – (i) Auspice (ii) Lead partner (iii) Independent (Gathering Place Incorporated organisation). The DIN’s preferred model was a balance of Scenario 2 & 3 – partnership while building capacity for a community controlled entity and space.

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.

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