The Byron Shire Aboriginal Services Coalition: Bagwa Bugalma
The Byron Shire Aboriginal Services Coalition formed in response to the ongoing lack of Aboriginal Service Delivery in the Byron Shire in 2014. Over the course of years the Aboriginal Services coalition was named in Bundjalung Language to Bagwa Bugalma – meaning to heal and to do correctly.
The Aboriginal Services Coalition formed to address the unmet need of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Byron Shire due to the absence of any targeted services for the community.
State and Federal government fund services for the Byron Shire ATSI community through services based in Tweed Heads, Ballina and Lismore with no clear transparency, consultation, engagement or accountability. As a result there is a complete lack of autonomous, identified Indigenous services operating in Byron Shire. Outreach from services already under funded and under pressure in their substantive communities is adhoc, difficult to access and does not benefit the wellbeing of Aboriginal community in the Byron Shire.
The aim of the Coalition was to establish coordinated service delivery with cultural framework, and understanding of the socio political barriers for ATSI people to access mainstream service, within the Byron Shire. The service would be holistic community hub for the Byron Shire ATSI community, collocated at the Mullumbimby District and Neighbourhood Centre that has existing programs and services that can enhance service and reduce duplication of service to maximize funding outcomes.
The service would also act as a peak body for the Byron Shire ATSI community to cconsult and advocate for programs and services including health, housing, transport, education, and employment, NOT cultural heritage matters which remains the sole business of traditional owners the Bundjalung people.
A current challenge for the Byron Shire ATSI community is being caught in a funding loop hole – there is no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community service the community are not eligible for ATSI targeted government funding, but funding is required to establish the service. The Aboriginal Services Coalition – Bagwa Bugalma formed to address these complex issues.
The MNDC are a big part of the Aboriginal Services Coalition and are continuing the work to advocate for improved identified service for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.