Making a Melbourne house a home for East Kimberly kids
04-Jul-2016 11:39 AM
Local businesses are banding together to help make a Melbourne property feel like home for students from East Kimberley, studying in Melbourne to get opportunities they are unable to access at home.
The students are sports mad but currently have nowhere safe to play basketball or to kick a football in the back yard. When local Melbourne businesses heard about the Wunan Foundation, Kimberley Education Excellence Program (KEEP) program, they pulled together to carry out a backyard blitz over the school holidays.
The KEEP program helps Aboriginal students to stay in school far away from their families by giving them a home environment, and helping them feel connected to their culture. Students live together in a house, rather than a typical boarding school, under the supervision and care of Aboriginal House Parents.
Wunan House Parent, Rowena Alexander, said: “When we met with EnergyAustralia and Yarra Valley Water and talked about what our goals were for creating safe and inviting homes for the students, we never expected that the backyard would be completed so quickly. Their families are so far away and to be able to share the news with them about the generosity of the businesses and people involved has ensured that they know their children have been welcomed into the community.”
Students are aged 13 to 15 and studying at local schools Mercy College and Parade College, which have kindly donated houses for use of the KEEP program. The students have no idea that this work will be carried out while they're home visiting their families and the work will be revealed when they return for Term 3.
In the next few months world renowned artist, Julian Clavijo will also work with the students to paint a mural specially designed to bring the colours of the East Kimberley to Melbourne.
EnergyAustralia and Yarra Valley Water have teamed up to help make the properties more energy and water efficient to reduce the cost of their bills. Other local businesses involved include Ventia, Urban Grooves, Downer, Rybazoid, Proquip and Dulux.
Pat McCafferty, Managing Director, Yarra Valley Water said “We regularly offer support to community groups within our area to help them to be more water efficient, but when we heard about the great work being done by Wunan as through the KEEP program, we wanted to do more.
“We knew that our generous partners would also want to offer their skills and expertise. We are extremely pleased to be able to support our local community, and to give these kids the best start possible, as well as making them feel at home in Melbourne. Our staff have worked hard to help this make-over become a reality, and I am grateful to all of our partners for their efforts and support,” added Mr McCafferty.
Catherine Tanna, Managing Director, EnergyAustralia said “I believe very strongly that all of us, as individuals, business and industry, should feel driven to do the right thing. Helping young students access opportunities through education is just one way we can do the right thing. That’s what EnergyAustralia’s involvement with the Wunan KEEP program is about,” said Ms Tanna.
To find out more about Wunan KEEP visit www.wunan.org.au