In Perth, over 31% of people who are at-risk of homelessness and seek accommodation support are Indigenous.
One First Nations organisation, Ebenezer Aboriginal Corporation, is working hard to close this gap. For over 50 years, the non-for-profit organisation has provided accommodation assistance to at-risk youths.
More recently, the corporation has expanded to include transitional facilities, vocational employment programs, in-home support, youth crime prevention as well as an employment program for ex-prisoners in Perth’s northern suburbs.
The corporation also provides family and domestic violence support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including men’s domestic violence service, Men Supporting Men, and women’s domestic violence service, Naala Bjookan.
Now, the corporation has been given the opportunity to expand its services, settling into a new, fit-for-purpose head office which opened today on Whadjuk Noongar Country in Perth, thanks to over $1.7m of funding from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC).
Ebenezer’s mission is to empower and equip at-risk individuals and families with the knowledge and skills to reach their full potential. The new head office will provide these groups a space to seek support and advice, linking them to appropriate health, wellbeing, childcare and legal services in the community.
The corporation currently provides services to 500-700 clients each year through its programs, and with its new head office, this number is expected to increase annually.
The permanent office will strengthen Ebenezer’s abilities, providing more social services to local Aboriginal clients – rising employee numbers from 37 to 47 – and allowing for additional employment opportunities for First Nations peoples by offering various traineeships.
Ebenezer Aboriginal Corporation Chief Executive Officer, Martin Smith, said Ebenezer staff and the community are excited for the new office as it will create an atmosphere of growth and development in the community and across the sector.
“With the number of programs available, it’s important for our staff, clients and community members to have a culturally safe place to access support, have a yarn and share their stories,” said Mr Smith.
“Over the years, Ebenezer has had a significant impact at a community level. In 2022, we received the NAIDOC community award for Mirrabooka recognising our work. We provide hope, inspiration, and assistance to clients to work through their pain, break destructive cycles and focus on the future.
“Ebenezer means ‘thus far the Lord has helped us’. We are grateful for the hand of God guiding and directing the work we do with our people. We are extremely thankful for the ILSC’s support, who have ensured we have the resources and support to move forward as an organisation”.
ILSC Group Chief Executive Officer, Joe Morrison, said the new facilities will provide a space for local Indigenous youths to learn and experience the Noongar culture.
“The centre will provide great benefits, not only to Indigenous youths in Perth’s northern suburbs, but the wider Indigenous community for generations to come,” said Mr Morrison.
“The projected increase in the number of clients Ebenezer will be able to service is vital for our First Nations peoples.
“The ILSC is proud to partner with Ebenezer and see their aspirations come to life, while raising the profile of Indigenous culture within the community, and wider Perth”.
The new Ebenezer Aboriginal Corporation head office is located at 3 Exhibition Drive, Malaga, WA 6090.
Images: ILSC GCEO Joe Morrison, ILSC Chair Ian Hamm, Ebenezer Chair Dennis Taylor, Ebenezer CEO Martin Smith and staff at the Ebenezer Aboriginal Corporation Divestment Ceremony held on 7 February 2024 on Whadjuk Noongar Country in Perth. Photographer: Cole Baxter.