We have been working with the community of Minyerri recently through a project managed by Enterprise Learning Projects (ELP) through The Smith Family. The work is part of the Australian Government-funded Communities for Children program.
I visited the community in August during a period when the Arts Centre was being revitalised and relaunched, so it was an exciting time as the building was repaired and improved. A beautiful sign was created by the women and children at the Centre (see the photo). At this time, the activities of the centre were also being planned, which is why I was there. My job was to help the people running the Arts Centre and ELP work out a way of planning and measuring the results of the work they would be doing at the Centre into the future. We call this a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, which is a grand-sounding name for a table with three columns and which follows the logic below:
Discussing this framework with the women at the Arts Centre led to one important question; what is the Minyerri Arrts Centre for? There are many answers to this question. As we talked about it, the conversation produced a set of outcomes that define what they are trying to achieve. Outcomes include sharing of knowledge between older and younger generations in the community, developing new skills, building self-esteem of children and young people and strengthening connections that they have with their history and culture. These are early days but the Arts Centre is becoming a place for many activities to take place. Drawing and painting are part of the plan, especially as after-school activities. One lady is making cushions there. Minyerri is also the home of Gulbarn Tea and so the collecting and packaging of tea also takes place there. More information on Gulbarn can be found here: https://gulbarn.com.au. The official opening day was 1st October. The children formed their own mini catering and events organisation, doing all the promotional material and distribution around Minyerri. They prepared wraps and popcorn and sold food and art to the community. It fitted in with one of the outcomes in the framework: ‘The community, especially parents, will know about the good things that kids can do at the Art Centre, that will help them grow up well’. I will be visiting Minyerri again in February, this time to help work out ways to collect information on the outcomes being achieved. No doubt we will review the framework in the light of experience so far at the Arts Centre. I am looking forward to being there again with Minyerri people and the ELP team.