Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

The Tom Price Community Garden is, by their own definition, a place to nurture community spirit, build friendships and access fresh nutritious foods that are difficult to source in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia. They do this by hosting working bees, workshops and events, which involve locals and ‘out-of-towners’ sharing the joy of gardening and its indirect benefit on individuals’ mental and physical health.

Thanks to a Nutrien Ag Solutions $5,000 grant, awarded in 2022 this grassroots community organisation improved their ability to provide fresh food, in particular native foods, to the community and strengthened local connections by constructing a ‘Bush Tucker’ garden.

The grant was used to purchase materials for garden beds and irrigation, as well as indigenous plants. With the help of many people from different backgrounds and ages, the organisation transformed a bare, neglected piece of land into a new, relaxing tranquil garden space. Their focus on creating a ‘Bush Tucker’ space has allowed collaboration with local indigenous groups to select native food plants that thrive in the area. This collaboration not only helped volunteers connect with local First Nations people but also increased their knowledge about identifying and using indigenous foods for both nutrition and medicinal purposes. 

Tania, the President of the Tom Price Community Garden Inc, wrote in their final report that it’s only when this knowledge is shared, the benefits of bush foods are passed to new generations.  

“In the short term, we have used this project to educate and teach participants concepts such as regenerating soil from composting and utilising plants local to the area, however the opportunities are endless.”

Another advantage of the ‘Bush Tucker’ garden is that it has provided a space for the Rangers 4 Life group, a group of young indigenous children, to utilise the garden for learning and engaging in activities in nature. There are also plans in place for the Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation to be permanent users of the space as a skill building and social program for their members.

As the garden blossoms and start producing, the community connection is also growing as this community organisation hoped. At the Grand Opening of the site, members had a chance to reflect on the involvement of so many people along the way, including children who were wanting to know more about the different plants.

On Ngarluma Country

Roebourne is a town in the Pilbara region of WA with a largely Aboriginal population. Police have observed a real gap in meaningful engagement with the youth of this community and a lack of opportunities to build their skills, confidence and positive decision making.

Big hART is an organisation that uses art as a catalyst for change. Over the years, Big hART has demonstrated its ability to engage and work strongly with young people and across different levels of community, with strong outcomes as a result. Their grassroots style of engagement, working directly with young people, has a huge impact on the social and community issues that face Roebourne as an Aboriginal community. The outcomes of the many programs, workshops and high production value events that have been created in partnership with Big hART have been profoundly life changing for many young people in the community.

Young people in the Pilbara have created a future focused, ground breaking digital education resource that celebrates living culture and supports teachers with an energetic mode of online learning. In 2020, Big hART received a $10,000 grant from the Westpac Foundation Community Grants program to train and create paid employment for four young adults in the Pilbara to deliver this Indigenous education resource live to classrooms nationally.

Known as the NEO-Learning project, Big hART created tailored training and professional development opportunities for the four trainees, who were individually mentored with a view to longer term employment, to deliver the NEO-Learning resource to schools nationally. The traineeships offered tangible career paths giving them strong digital skillsets and practical industry experience that included digital drawing and music delivery skill building, virtual education delivery, media and communications, and presenting and public speaking. These activities and tasks were mentored by professional producers and creative industry practitioners, through a task focused workshop program.

The outcomes from the project exceeded expectations, with incredible results for some of the trainees, one of whom was Simara, a young Aboriginal woman from Roebourne. She was part of the digital training program, and said that during the program, she grew in confidence and felt excited for her future and career path.

Sam Hawker is the National Producer for Big hART. She said that while creating peer to peer educational content, Simara displayed an excellent eye for framing and observation.

“We have been able to foster her passion for photography over the last 12 months, providing opportunity for Simara to build technical skills and refine her creative practice. To amplify her achievements, we delivered professional development workshops, leading to her art being selected at the prestigious Revealed Exhibition hosted by Fremantle Arts Centre in Perth. Big hART supported Simara throughout this process, from initial conversations with Fremantle Arts Centre to the development of an artist statement, workshops on licensing, contracts and payments. Over the course of the Exhibition, all of Simara’s artworks sold, including one being purchased by the WA State Government for display in Dumas House in Perth.

“As Simara’s confidence in photography continues to grow, she has become a very important role model and mentor for her peers and community.”

Simara also completed media training under the mentorship of Big hART’s Media Manager and implemented this training in conducting interviews with her community. Big hART also helped Simara to obtain her Driver’s License, an essential qualification for employment in the region.

“Being employed as a trainee with Big hART was a great experience for me, as I gained a lot from supporting children and being a mentor and leader for them… this work helped me learn my identity and aspirations. It has made me look for other challenges and opportunities in my life,” Simara said.

For more inspiring stories like this, head to our FY 2021/22 Annual Review.