Nimbin Aboriginal Cultural centre rises again
Cultural Centre Manager Mahlie Bales says the interest and support in the Centre has been really encouraging.
Birrigubba man Mahlie Bales has lived in Nimbin most of his life. Growing up he watched his father and other Aboriginal elders develop the Nimbin Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Last year the future of the Centre was in jeopardy, and Mahlie, honoring his father and past elders, stepped in with a breath of inspiration and energy.
Mahlie says the Centre will be run on three essential principles:
Cultural teaching - including language, art, storytelling, dance, music and Lore.
Social - creating a safe environment for kids, where they can get a meal, use computers, explore and develop artistic skills.
Education - after school tutoring as well as kick boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).
Mahlie says “It’s been a bit of a roller coaster; I’ve been going from overwhelmed to really excited.”
Last year the Cultural Centre received a grant of $20,000 from Creative Koori Group. “With that money we’ve been able to improve the entrance and make it more usable. We put in a rock garden, wheelchair access, steps to the street, and lighting inside to display artwork.”
“We want to keep the center an open space where we can display art work and have a work station for artists,” says Mahlie. “We recently sold our first art work. A painting by an amazing artist called Elana Hickling.”
We walked with Mahlie to the centre. The first thing we feel is a unique sense of warmth, even though the air was quite chilly. Art works on display are entrancing, there are several it’s hard to stop looking at. In the back corner is a hairdressing salon set up. Hair products have been donated by King brown.
Mahlie says the interest and support in the Centre has been really encouraging. Rekindling the Spirit (RRS), based in Lismore, is an organization established in the 1990s. Its focus is on clientele who have substance abuse issues, problems with violent behaviors, and difficulty connecting with partners and children. Mahlie tells us RRS intends to come out to the Nimbin Cultural Centre next month to run a podcast course for 12 – 18 year olds.
Last week Daniel Lorraway, a counsellor from The Strong Community Program discussed with Mahlie coming to Nimbin with a program providing free specialist mental health support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 years and over.
“We’ll be open for Naidoc week providing food, entertainment and activities for the kids,” says Mahlie. Naidoc week is from 2nd July – 9th July.
As we walked through the Cultural Centre and talked with Mahlie we felt a strong sense of renewal and optimism. Mahlie impressed upon us the centre is open to everyone where kids can feel both safe and free. Right across the road is the skate board park.
“We’re in an excellent location,” says Mahlie, “we’re far enough away from the main street but close enough for parents to know where their kids are.”
The future is bright for the Cultural Centre, resonating with good will, creativity and vision.