Timeline of Willum Warrain 


In the late 80’s and early 90’s, the Hastings Aboriginal community started to gather in the old Community House. There was quite a sizeable community in those days with many families with young children living in the surrounding area. It was run by several non-Indigenous women who responded to the need for a place where we felt safe and comfortable together. There was open hostility towards Aboriginal people from the broader community at times.


From the regular gatherings, a desire for a place of our own started to emerge. Kaala Koorie was formed and one of its goals was to work towards a permanent home for community. Whilst the community house was good up to a point, space was reduced over time; it leaked when it rained and ever present was the problem of having to pack up and share the rooms with other groups.


The Aboriginal Support and Development team was started by the Mornington Peninsula Shire, a further expression of the MP Shire’s longstanding commitment to reconciliation.
Initially, headed up by Glenys Watts, Beryl Wilson was added to the team three years later to run the HACC program, and in more recent times, has included Adam Maginess-Edwards, as a Cultural Heritage Officer and trained archaeologist. The Aboriginal Support and Development team supported and worked towards realizing the community’s desire for a home over many years.


The planned activity group run by Beryl Wilson began meeting at Peaches, in Hastings Hospital until it was relocated to the new Peninsula Health facility in High Street near the Secondary college. Again, the local community had to look for somewhere else to meet and aspirations continued to grow for a place of our own. Kaala Koorie ceased to operate after 13 years. There is no Aboriginal community organization in Hastings for two years.


After much discussion and community consultation, supported by the L.I.N. framework, a new organization, Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association Incorporation is formed.
The planned activity group run by the MP Shire operates out of the Hastings Hall for the next three years. Simultaneously, WWAAI began to seriously work towards a gathering place with the Shire’s vital support, as possible buildings and locations are explored. Enabling funding is also obtained via Closing the Gap and the Dept. of Health – community expectations are raised considerably of an imminent opening.


Willum Warrain partly opened. The buildings are in an unfinished state and require considerable community and volunteer labour to make them operable. Funding is obtained from the MP Shire on a regular basis and also from the Dept. of Health. In 2013, Deb Mellett is employed as a Project Officer – her role in part is to explore funding sources for our fledgling organization and to work in conjunction with the MP Shire to facilitate the opening of the gathering place.

28th March 2014

Official opening of Willum Warrain gathering place by Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Ms. Georgie Crozier takes place. The dream for a place of our own is finally realized!

Willum Warrain seeks to establish and consolidate itself as an independent ACCO run by a community-elected Board. Community and visitors are made to feel very welcome by Deb Mellett, whose legacy is subsequently built upon by Kirsty Bell, the second Gathering Place Coordinator (another high achieving worker on behalf of community).


Willum Warrain starts the year more optimistically with philanthropic funding in place to employ a new Gathering Place Coordinator. We are determined to secure a strong and vibrant future for our mob on the Mornington Peninsula. .


We have experienced steady growth and now have a membership of 340 Aboriginal adult members and a kinship reach of 1100. We have a similar number of non-Indigenous, Associate members. We operate 4 days a week and run programs on every second weekend and during holidays. Community events regularly attract large crowds. The Board, led by President, Taneisha Webster, has endorsed our new Strategic plan for 2019 to 2021. A key focus is on youth. Our staff has grown to 12, with the appointment of Peter Aldenhoven, as Executive Officer, to oversee the implementation of the strategic plan. We celebrated our 5th birthday with the unveiling of a companion totem entry sculpture of Waa. The future is looking bright with considerable government and philanthropic support in place.