Learning practical skills empowers and connects local women

Ngallu Wal Aboriginal Child & Family Centre, in the Doonside area of suburban Sydney, is leading the way in building partnerships which focus on social inclusion and connectedness for local Indigenous people.

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Through these partnerships, the Centre aims to deliver community services which are grounded in Indigenous academic and community knowledge combined with mainstream evidence -based theories and practices.

Ngallu Wal staff are working closely with three local organisations: the Doonside Women’s Development Collective, the Doonside Men’s Development Collective and Ngallu Wal’s Elders Group.

The first idea they are putting in to practice focuses specifically on empowering and connecting local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. They asked ICV to find a volunteer who could help the women learn valuable sewing skills in a group setting.

Experienced ICV volunteer Rosemary gladly ran sewing classes and taught the women how to use sewing machines and produce items of clothing, curtains and cushions among other things.

At first, the women met one day a week but they soon added an extra day. They started out not knowing how to thread a needle but progressed so quickly that they began receiving orders for their creations. With Rosemary’s help over a couple months they made more than 50 cushions. The money they make from selling their items goes straight back into the group as well as helping the Kids’ Club.

Ngallu Wal’s Leonnie Herczeg says, “The group feels that they not only learnt the basics of sewing, but it’s also helped the local women form friendships, and it’s provide d a much-appreciated social outlet to some of them.”

ICV Community Development Officer Renee Tomkinson says, “This is a great grassroots project.  It empowers the ladies by helping them develop useful , practical skills. They can create their own products and hopefully this will lead to an ongoing source of income for them.”

This is a wonderful example of capacity building at the grass roots level. What appears on the surface to be a simple sewing skills project has had far reaching benefits for both local Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal  women.  It’s reconciliation at its best!”