Based in Smithton in north-west Tasmania, Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation (CHAC) provides services and programs to support the Indigenous and wider community in the region. CHAC has programs to assist the unemployed, the elderly, youth at risk, families and those with literacy and numeracy issues and drug and alcohol problems.
One of the aims of the corporation, which has over 300 members, is to incorporate cultural themes into the programs it provides. For example, one of the programs, Wakanami Rani—a call to turn—is designed to increase the confidence and self-esteem of job seekers. CHAC also offers culture camps that include mutton-bird excursions and fishing trips and classes in the delicate and labour-intensive art of shell necklace making.
‘There is so much richness in our culture,’ said Graeme Heald, CHAC chairperson and contract manager of the Indigenous employment program. ‘Here at Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation we have the opportunity to both practise these traditions and share them with the wider community.’
ORIC officer Joanne Collins, who has recently returned to Canberra after a four-month stint providing support to corporations in Tasmania, only has good things to say about the way CHAC conducts its business.
‘This corporation is an extremely high performing organisation,’ Ms Collins says. ‘While all of the programs delivered by CHAC are successfully run, CHAC really excels at delivering its employment programs, and has done so for a number of years.’
CHAC recently received a $320 000 grant from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, which they plan to use to expand their office. ‘Funding bodies have seen that the services we deliver achieve results,’ explained Mr Heald. ‘The programs and services we’ve added mean that we have outgrown our premises.’
The new extension will include facilities for a playgroup as well as offices upstairs. Work on the new building will begin shortly. ‘It’s an exciting time for CHAC,’ said Mr Heald. ‘We’re all very much looking forward to having the extra room.’
CHAC has been nominated for a community achievement award from Awards Australia in the Tasmanian community of the year category. The number of programs and services CHAC provides for the Aboriginal and local community were one reason for the nomination as well as its work in tackling family violence and youth issues.
Photo: Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation management team employee Dianne Baldock with chairperson Graeme Heald
(Photo courtesy of the Circular Head Chronicle)