‘Keeping the fire burning’ and honouring our service providers with morning tea

At Marrin Weejali, we recognise the profound impact that partnership and community support have on our mission to empower individuals and families to overcome addiction and emotional distress. On Monday, May 29th, we had the privilege of acknowledging the invaluable contributions of our service providers during our special annual morning tea event themed ‘Keeping the fire burning,’ in alignment with this year’s NAIDOC theme.

In addition to special recognitions, partnerships and client videos, our program for the day featured a delightful lunch of bush tucker grazing boards provided by Kallico Catering, an Aboriginal-owned and operated, grassroots catering service that proudly employs many Aboriginal people.

Our attendees appreciated the warm atmosphere and valued the chance to network with other service providers.

“We deeply appreciate our service providers for their unwavering support. It takes a network of people to help restore someone’s shattered spirit, and their contributions never go unnoticed. Without them, we couldn’t do what we do. They make our work possible.” – Tony Hunter, CEO.

Celebrating partnership and community connection

The morning began with a Welcome to Country from Marrin Weejalie Board Member Joe Haroa, the sound of the didgeridoo and a heartfelt acknowledgement of fire’s vital role in our lives. Fire symbolises not only warmth and sustenance but also transformation and renewal. Just as fire has the power to cleanse and regenerate, our partnerships with service providers help ignite hope and healing in the lives of those we serve.

In this spirit, the Welcome to Country set the tone for our event, emphasising Marrin Weejali’s mission to be a catalyst for change. The gathering brought together communities and services, highlighting how even the smallest sparks can lift individuals from their lowest moments to new beginnings.

The event highlighted the strength of our community connections and the collaborative spirit at Marrin Weejali. We were deeply grateful to see around 90-100 people in attendance, demonstrating the widespread support for our programs and initiatives.

Special acknowledgements

During the morning tea, in keeping with our annual tradition, we were honoured to recognise several service providers who have demonstrated exceptional dedication and support for Marrin Weejali and the communities we serve. They include:

  • Western Sydney Integrated Care Team (ITC) – Western Sydney ITC’s holistic and culturally relevant healthcare support has played a pivotal role in enhancing the well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals facing chronic health conditions. Collaboratively, we offer support and host informative sessions within our groups and community, specifically focusing on Chronic Diseases.
  • Curtis and Margaret Emerton & their amazing team at Amcal Pharmacy – Curtis and Margaret continue to immerse their staff in our culture, enabling them to provide expert care and education to our clients and community. Through our partnership with Ray Kelly’s ‘Too Deadly for Diabetes’, they volunteer their time to provide educational sessions and contribute to events like Mental Health Awareness Day and Overdose Awareness.
  • Shirley Brown, Aboriginal Chronic Care Nurse – Shirley from Mt Druitt Community Health Centre in Western Sydney Local Health District has offered unwavering support, and our trustful working relationship has been priceless in providing holistic care to our clients and community.
  • Mt Druitt TAFE Community Services Sector – Our longstanding partnership with Mt Druitt TAFE has enabled us to provide essential training, education and community engagement. Together, we co-facilitate events like Addictions Awareness Day, Overdose Awareness and R U OK? Day. Their community classes gain work experience, while our staff offer Q&A sessions and join field trips. Mt Druitt TAFE also offers Diploma training onsite at Marrin.
  • Western Sydney Community Legal Centre – Civil solicitor Veselko Cuic has dedicated the past decade to educating and supporting our clients. Every Friday, he conducts outreach sessions at Marrin, actively participates in the Better Man Group, and co-facilitates various programs, including discussions on AVOs and associated conditions. His steadfast support has seamlessly integrated him into our community, and he is always readily available to assist our staff and clients with any issues.
  • Alice Bateup, Community Elder – Alice embodies the spirit of community collaboration and support through her volunteer work with our Women’s Social Group, teaching art and providing mentorship. Through creative expression, women in addiction recovery or in need of emotional support find solace and empowerment.

Additional special mentions for contributors to our community, clients, and centre include Natalia Arnas from Cancer Council, Dr Steven Liew from Bidwill Family Practice, and Dr. Lubna Naaz from Mackenzie House Specialist Centre. Both have an open-door policy, prioritising clients with mental illness or who are in crisis.

We want to thank our partner services for coming to the fire

Our morning tea was brimming with moments of connection and gratitude. Services Manager Melinda Bonham explains that this was the highlight of the day for her. Reflecting on the warmth and camaraderie, she shares that seeing everyone come together to enjoy bush tucker, music, and networking offered a glimpse of the deep sense of community and belonging that defines Marrin Weejali’s work.

Attendees were asked to complete a survey, yielding positive responses regarding our event and overall services. Some respondents highlighted Marrin Weejali’s integral role in closing the gap in life outcomes for Aboriginal people, emphasising its importance on the ground.

Others praised its reliability, providing a safe space for clients and offering assistance with transport options and men’s groups. Another testimonial noted our impact on student engagement, community referral pathways, and support for teachers and students alike.

Additionally, Marrin Weejali was commended for contributing to family support services, ensuring vulnerable families receive assistance and children are kept safe. Overall, respondents expressed gratitude for our culturally sensitive programs and commitment to providing a safe environment for the community.

At Marrin Weejali, we believe that together, we can create positive change and build a brighter future for our community. We invite you to join us in keeping the flame of hope and healing alive.

Take the first step towards healing and reconciliation

If you or someone you know is in need of support to overcome addiction, Marrin Weejali is here to help. Our programs and services are designed to provide holistic, culturally safe support to individuals and families on their journey to healing and recovery.

See our Aboriginal drug and alcohol misuse programs and social and emotional support programs.

You are welcome at Marrin Weejali.

Contact us for a confidential discussion.