Boab Network

MOWANJUM Aboriginal Community (MAC) and Boab Network Partnership

  • This partnership was established after the Derby UC Minister wrote in 2008 to the Moderator seeking urgent help with Mowanjum youth due to many suicides and attempted suicides within this community.
  • All Saints Floreat Uniting Church responded to the call and visited and spoke with community elders, resulting in the establishment of a school holiday program which has run every school holiday since 2008
  • Floreat Uniting Church Creative Living Centre was established as the legal entity, under which Boab Network (and Black Pearl Network – a partnership with indigenous Papuan people in Indonesian Papua and West Papua which primarily functions as a  cultural and English language exchange program) functions.
  • The school holiday program has extended into providing Back to Country opportunities for the MAC, who are in fact Worrorra, Wunambal and Ngarinyin  people whose country is further north on the Kimberley coast, but relocated to Mowanjum , 10Km out of Derby on the Gibb River Road  by government concern for the difficulties of the remote location of their land and physical difficulties of sustaining the people in that place. This disjoint between the Mowanjum people and their traditional land and consequently their language, culture and traditions has in no small way contributed, and contributes, to on-going tensions in terms of educational aspirations, spiritual health and community integration. Youth suicide can trace its path to these tensions. Despite increasing suicides in Kimberley communities, Mowanjum has not suffered a youth suicide since the inception of this partnership.
  • Boab Network works closely with the elders, listening, responding and implementing programs and facilities. In recent years an IT Centre has been established at the community to assist high school students meet study expectations. When not met, these create impediments to regular school attendance. With help from a government Resource Centre grant a fully equipped IT centre was set up and is accessed by the whole community. Boab Network volunteers were pivotal in physically establishing and arranging on-going maintenance of this facility.
  • The Boab Network has secured grants on behalf of the MAC to develop  the adjacent Mowanjum Pastoral Station and this has been successfully implemented including cattle holding pens and pivot irrigation systems which allow fodder to be taken every 6 weeks off the land. The pastoral station is presently leased to a large pastoral company.
  • Boab Network and the MAC see education of the young as critical to breaking down real and imagined barriers in the future for MAC, and school attendance is encouraged by the attraction of the Annual Perth Reward Camp. Students from the Community who have a reasonable school attendance record and are well behaved are shortlisted for possible selection of this annual camp, for review, and final selection by elders. 12 students and two chaperons are flown, (previously brought to Perth by bus, 2500km, 3 day there, and 3 day back ) for a week of mostly sponsored events. Events include visits to Clontarf College to give the kids a glimpse of possibilities, and also a visit to UWA Indigenous Studies to really raise the bar when the age group of campers warrants this interface. Mostly fun activities, some almost awesome, are the usual fare. We are indebted to our generous sponsors.
  • Boab Network has a cadre of young tertiary student volunteers for the Holiday programs, but funding to get the volunteers to Mowanjum at approximately $1,000 per volunteer per visit (a  Co-ordinator plus 4 helpers ) for 4 holiday periods a year equates to some $20,000pa
  • The Perth Camp costs some $18,000 for air fares, camp hire, food & fuel and relies heavily  on the generosity of a city church to ensure viability of this program.
  • Funding of Boab Network  remains a continual effort for the Boab Network and Creative Living Centre and the Board is committed to broadening the donor base, principally by encouraging Uniting Church members to contribute modest monthly donations by direct debit .
what is boab network