Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Albany Aboriginal Centre

We have just returned from two nights in Albany 406 kilometres south of Fremantle. It was a busy, but very pleasant trip. Going down we had about three hundred Ks of rain which was not that nice for an oldie like me doing 110kph. Those big wheat trucks create a water wash whirlwind but fortunately there are plenty of overtaking lanes on Albany Highway.

Once in Albany we got set up in our motel room. Should give a plug for the Dolphin Inn at Middleton Beach…excellent facilities and inexpensive. $79 per night for a two bedroom apartment. That saved on having to brave the cold evenings to go to a restaurant.

That afternoon we had arranged to meet a coordinator of the Albany Aboriginal Community Centre to deliver and set up four computers with the aim of helping combat the alarming suicide rate amongst aboriginal youth in Albany.

Unfortunately nobody turned up and we made arrangements to return the next day at 9.30am hoping that there would be people to give some instructions in the programs we had loaded on the machines and general instructions on the Mac operating system. This time we were let in and had the place to ourselves until a retired aboriginal lady came along and we were able to show her how things worked. Although she had not used a Mac before she very quickly got a handle on the operation and the software and is going to be the IT specialist. It was stressed that they did not want to place computers in individual homes and they are hoping it will bring youth and oldies together to learn to write letters, play games etc and communicate with each other.

She is a very pleasant person and we chatted about the organization and the building. We were told that there is no ongoing government funding for maintenance and development of the facility. Another younger woman joined us and we were told that although funding was good, their community had for too long been welfare dependent and for funds to keep their community centre going it was better for them to fund it themselves with the help of a few donations such as ours. There is a perception among many white Australians that aboriginals get too much welfare.

The computers are ready to be used and we have requests for more machines for specific cases…one being a young woman who has recently been released from prison and is starting full-time studies.

Although the centre was a little run down, we were impressed by the efforts of the people to get their people together for cultural events etc.

Whilst down at Albany we did all the touristy things and there is much to see there. It is a little chilly there at the moment, but the coast and islands are magnificent. The town (is it a city?) is very hilly with many fine houses with wonderful views out to sea. It is however, mountain goat country and one needs to be quite a good driver to negotiate very steep driveways.

Some Pics of Albany tomorrow.

A teaser.....Albany Town Hall

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