Grants help Aboriginal organisations meet increased demand

24 June 2020

We have supported Aboriginal community organisations with $60,000 in grant funding to help them care for vulnerable people as COVID-19 unfolds.

The grants are helping organisations that have experienced a substantial increase in demand provide a range of support for Aboriginal people, including emergency accommodation, meals, medical supplies and home visits.

Among the grant recipients is Victoria’s oldest Aboriginal community organisation, the Aborigines Advancement League.

Founded in 1957 by pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls, Doris Blackburn, Stan Davey and Gordon Bryant, and now led by Chief Executive Officer Dr Esme Bamblett, the organisation works with the most vulnerable Aboriginal people in Melbourne.

‘COVID-19 has meant that we have not been able to provide face-to-face contact with our clients. As a result of the restrictions we have had to close our doors to clients and provide a service via telephone and contactless visits to clients,’ Dr Bamblett said.

‘During COVID-19 the vulnerability of our clients increased and we found that they needed extra assistance with getting groceries. With families home 24 hours per day it puts a big strain on the household budget as they tend to eat more.

‘This grant was a lifesaver for a lot of them because we were able to purchase 120 basics boxes from Woolworths and deliver them. These basics boxes will last an Elder four weeks and people with a family two weeks.’

Dr Bamblett said COVID-19 has been particularly difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as they have to contend with fear (because they are in the most vulnerable category), as well as cultural issues associated with the lockdown.

‘As we are a particularly close people, we normally see each other on a regular basis. This has not been able to occur because of visitation restrictions and this has caused extra stress on our people,’ Dr Bamblett said.

‘We also know that our households are bigger than non-Aboriginal households and therefore we need more food supplies, causing an additional strain.

‘We have had feedback from our clients that the groceries we were able to purchase for them were exactly what they needed at this time.’

Councillor Nicolas Frances Gilley MBE, Chair of the Aboriginal City portfolio, said Council is pleased to support community organisations doing such important work.

‘The Black Lives Matter movement and facing a pandemic have reminded us all how important it is to foster meaningful collaborations, and work together to take care of all Melburnians with empathy and respect,’ Cr Frances Gilley said.

‘I encourage people to seek out knowledge about Aboriginal culture and support Aboriginal businesses at every opportunity. A good place to start would be the excellent resources from our virtual National Reconciliation Week events, which are still available on our website.

‘The City of Melbourne also has some great things in store, including our new Reconciliation Action Plan.’

Melbourne Town Hall

Virtual National Reconciliation Week

From lunchtime learning to recommended reading, storytelling and song – we delivered a full program of activities online for National Reconciliation Week. A number of the materials are still available on our website. To learn more about Aboriginal history, culture, and achievements, and join us in creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between all people, visit National Reconciliation Week.

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