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A grassroots initiative for healing and empowerment

Our team at Acacia Prison in Western Australia (WA) has opened a ground-breaking unit that is set to change the lives of Aboriginal men in custody. The Acacia Cultural Centre has been designed and implemented by the men themselves, for the men and the community. The unit aims to foster pride, belonging, and a positive, resilient, and cohesive community.

The timing of the opening of the unit was significant as it coincided with the Kambarang season, where an abundance of colours and flowers explode all around us. The yellows of the Acacias continue to abound, and the Balgas or grass trees start to flower, especially if they have been burnt in the past. It is a time of growth, healing, and flourishing, and the unit provides men with the tools to do just that.

Six Indigenous male inmates squatting in front of six smiling people

The programs offered within the unit have been created by multiple Aboriginal advisory groups in and outside the prison, and they will be facilitated by Aboriginal men and women from the community. The men accommodated in the unit have been empowered with the tools to shape their future, create, and lead initiatives that will positively impact their people. The unit is a grassroots initiative, where yarns will be held around a fire pit, cooking will be done together, and the old fellas are taking responsibility for the younger mob. In times of grief, dedicated sleepover rooms are available, and the men can stay with an Uncle who can remind them of the resilience they have inherited from their older generations.

Weekly language classes, dance, cultural mapping, and music are just some of the opportunities provided to the men in the unit, giving them a chance to give back to the community through art, message sticks, and kylies (the indigenous term for boomerang). 
This Centre is a first for WA prisons, and it represents Serco’s belief in self-determination for Aboriginal people. The Acacia Cultural Centre is a powerful initiative that empowers men to heal, learn, and connect with their community, culture, and land.

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