Local group’s hard work pays off

Local group’s hard work pays off

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Wungening CEO Daniel Morrison.

June was a triumphant month for Wungening Aboriginal Corporation, which received a multitude of awards in recognition of its drive to provide “Aboriginal-led solutions to Aboriginal issues.”
Starting off in 1988, the organisation, which has expanded its scope and reach with over 240 staff in 14 hubs across the Perth metro area, celebrates its 35th year of operation this July.
In the past month, Wungening’s work has been recognised with Reconciliation Australia’s National Indigenous Governance Award, the Australasian Housing Institute’s Brighter Future Excellence in Social Housing Award and recognition of their chairperson, Danny Ford, with an Order of Australia Medal at this year’s Queens Birthday Honours.
With services tackling domestic and family violence, incarceration, housing and family welfare, Wungening was born when its founders saw a need for an Aboriginal-led, culturally appropriate alcohol and substance abuse service in Perth.
“We haven’t always been this big, we’ve only had our Armadale hub for four years now,” Wungening CEO Daniel Morrison said.
“When we started, we saw there were a lot of services to Aboriginal people from mainstream, non-government organisations, and they were getting the lion’s share of the funding.
“We’ve been pushing for more Aboriginal community control and Aboriginal-led solutions to Aboriginal issues,” Mr Morrison said.
And that push has seen a deliberate expansion over the decades into areas of biggest concern in the community.
“In 2001 we expanded to include the refuge for women and children escaping family violence.
“Fast forward a few years we grew into justice, getting our foot in the door with juvenile justice, working at Banksia Hill, and then as a result we got into adult justice with rehabilitation and re-entry in adult prisons, male and female, across Perth.
“More recently we’ve grown into child protection,” Mr Morrison said, referring to an extraordinarily successful project of working with at-risk families.
“It’s been a great program, since it’s been in operation 96 per cent of the families that we’ve worked with, the department has totally backed off and they’ve closed the case, we’ve been able to keep the families together and the children in their kinship structures,” Mr Morrison said.
“We want our children to stay with their families, we want less Aboriginal incarceration in the justice system and if those two alone were able to be addressed we would have a lot more families together and stronger futures for our next generations.”
More recently, Wungening has entered the housing and homelessness sector, setting up a hostel for rough sleepers, along with programs to support families facing homelessness
“We strive for self-determination in our community, we strive for Aboriginal solutions to be Aboriginal-led, and that’s through ensuring we consult widely with the Aboriginal community and asking them what their issues are and how they can be solved. I believe that’s key.
“We have had a very committed and experienced board of directors who have never shied away from the hard issues we are dealing with.
“We’ve got majority Aboriginal staff who are linked to the communities they serve and that has a massive impact on the work we do.
“The Wungening way – the way we work – is to understand what the community wants, when they want it, how they want it and where they want it as well.
“We are a community-owned organisation that is developing community. That’s our purpose and that’s our vision.”