LDC Group consultants have over the past 30 years worked with communities across Australia, both in a paid and volunteer capacity on a range of initiatives aimed at improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of First Nations Peoples. This project explored the importance of Gathering Places for bringing First Nations Peoples together, where people can feel safe and supported.
The inner urban south attracts First Nations Peoples from around Australia. The community had been gathering in a variety of formal and informal spaces over many years, primarily in a precinct of St. Kilda. This Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing and City of Port Phillip project sought to examine how gatherings could be enhanced for the community including reviewing local gathering places, especially as people had not been able to gather during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Through extensive consultations, literature review and codesign workshops, we explored the importance of gathering for First Nations Peoples in Melbourne’s inner urban south, how people had gathered to date and what the community’s vision was for the future. Local Elders and community members, as well as key aboriginal workers and staff from the State Government and the City of Port Phillip, made significant contributions to the project, articulating their perspectives on how to advance opportunities for people to gather.
The project clearly demonstrated the importance of gathering to First Nations Peoples and the benefits of gathering places for individuals and communities. It also highlighted the complexities of implementing practical initiatives in local communities where there are diverse needs and competing interests.
As consultants our ability to bring fresh perspectives to the conversation between Council and Community enabled the stakeholders to move the conversation away from established stumbling blocks and to think more productively to identify what was possible within Council constraints and to move closer to what the community wanted for their gathering places