By Patrick Griffiths
Gathered in a backyard under the shade of a eucalyptus at the Apollo Housing Estate of east Dubbo community leaders and GK Australia members shared ideas and a plan. This meeting came about in early January 2014 as six members of GK Australia made their way from Sydney to continue to lay the foundations of a project to improve the outlook and future of the predominately Indigenous Apollo Estate. A poor reputation within Dubbo has led to the nicknaming of the estate as ‘the Bronx’. To turn a negative image into one from which a strong and positive community can grow our GK team was in Dubbo to hear the hopes and concerns of residents.
Much of our time was spent at Apollo House, a centre for support and activities throughout the estate. Its services include access to Internet, a phone and numerous events for young and old. With local elder Riverbank Frank as our guide we walked the streets, holding meetings on the pavement, under trees and by backyard fences as we ran into residents along the way. Encountering other community projects in the broader Dubbo area such as a Men’s Shed and free dinners organised by an Anglican church demonstrated a level of community concern and care already in place.
Finding a way that GK can best apply its community building approach to a regional Australian context is the next challenge. Listening to residents revealed, amongst other things, activities for young people, jobs, inclusion and pride in the estate as chief concerns. What we from GK found was that much of what Apollo Estate needs is already scattered across Dubbo. Organising a comprehensive community effort to raise residents from a poverty of hope and wellbeing is the next step. Leaving Dubbo we found ourselves with a long list of ideas, some strong new friendships and a promise to return.