On the 13th of March 2011 the remote Aboriginal Community of Warrmarn was struck by devastating floods that overwhelmed much of the town and damaged or destroyed facility buildings, houses and the existing aged care hostel.
Some 350 Gija People were forced off their homelands until the houses and infrastructure were re-built over the next two years.
The Walumba Elders Centre was born out of this disaster.
The building was sited adjacent to the community school – to act as a focal point for bringing the community back together and to aid in the transmission of the unique Aboriginal Lore, Gija Language and cultural knowledge to the younger members of the community.
The facility provides self care accommodation to some residents and high-level care to others. To avoid potential future flooding activity the centre is built 2.4 metres above the natural ground level and is conceptually linked with the idea of a bridge. The concept relates to bridge not only as physical infrastructure but also as passage of knowledge between generations and as a place of care and respite before the possibility of passing from this existence to the next.
The facility seeks to address and manage complex and critical factors inherent in Aboriginal culture such as gender separation, access to outdoor spaces both public and private, supporting Lore and Culture activities including ceremonies that may involve fire and smoke, avoidance relationships including son-in-law/ mother-in-law relationships, inter-family conflict issues and mortuary practices- called ‘sorry business’.
photos: peter bennetts