Us & Our History

The Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative Ltd (DDACL) was established by families in the local area who saw the need to provide support for the growing Koori community. The service has adapted over the years to meet the changing needs of local Aboriginal people.

We have first-hand knowledge of issues affecting the local Aboriginal community and take a flexible, culturally sensitive approach to all services. We ensure all of our programs and service responses have a strong cultural component and we strive to remain accessible to the community.

History

The first meetings of the Co-op were held in the homes of the Walker, Terrick, Harrison and Charles families, among others. In 1975 the Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative Society Limited (DDACSL) was incorporated and eventually found its home at 64 Stud Road Dandenong.

The DDACSL forged a strong relationship with the then Dandenong City Council (later to be renamed City of Greater Dandenong). Initial funding was provided to develop operations and for programs to help address unemployment and life skills in the Koori community in Dandenong, Doveton, Hallam, Noble Park and a developing Endeavour Hills.

One of the Co-op’s first funded programs was a Women’s Sewing program for domestic skill purposes. A dozen Singer sewing machines were purchased for the program and participants came and went over the years.

By the mid 1980s the DDACSL received regular funding for emergency relief and family support. It also received regular visiting services from the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS). By the end of the decade, the DDACSL had improved its family support program and provided access to a medical clinic. Funding from HACC also saw the creation of a blossoming playgroup and the Burrai Child Care Centre, which later closed due to low number of people using the service.

On the 23 February 1994, the Bunurong Health Service (BHS) was officially opened by two of the original founders of the DDACSL, Auntie Patsy Harrison and Uncle Kevin Walker.

In 1996, the DDACSL was re-incorporated under the Co-operatives Act (Victoria) as the Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative Ltd (DDACL) and went into administration shortly afterwards. Just three years later, the organisation had rebuilt itself through the hard work and commitment of a new Board of Directors, its management and staff, with new programs such as HACC, Family Services, Mental Health and the BHS and Primary health Care.

The organisation has continued to develop stronger links to mainstream agencies and forged new partnerships to expand its capacity for service delivery. The organisation has also undergone a change in its structure to enable it to manage its services over the next two decades.