Beenleigh Housing and Development Company Ltd (BHDC Ltd) is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that strives to support, enhance and transform the lives of its members in culturally supportive and regenerative ways. The company is a not-for-profit, registered charity holding Public Benevolent Institution (PBI) registration with the Australian Taxation Office.
Our community believes that Indigenous people can lead transformative change within a range of contexts including ‘urban’ areas. It begins with our concept of ‘home’. This is related to an ancient Indigenous principle of connection enmeshed with this country:
– we are a part of it and it is a part of us – we and the living and non-human world are interrelated.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people successfully lived in sustainable balance across this nation before invasion. We are the world’s oldest living culture and within our ways of doing and being are embedded principles that can and will continue to sustain us on this country. It has been the effects of invasion that have attempted to wrench us from our country.
It is our deeply held belief however that our ways of doing things, our culture is still residing in every place. We carry within, our Community principles from the oldest lived stream of knowing about home and place. Our Community feels the urgency to relight our concepts of home again in this urban area of Beenleigh, Eagleby, Logan and adjacent areas.
We seek to not only survive but thrive with respect and purposeful connection with each other, our country and those who now dominate it – visitors or uninvited dwellers alike.
A concept of ‘home’ encompasses many phrases such as community, country, place, camp or hearth. For our Community, the concept of ‘home’ is a unique Indigenous idea that meshes Indigenous cultural and spiritual beliefs with lived experiences in contemporary urban Australia. This concept of ‘home’ has arisen because of the pressure of colonisation and our people surviving and thriving in spite of our extraordinary circumstances.
Modernisation and colonisation
Our Community is clear in its understanding that there is a difference between concepts of modernisation and colonisation. Modernisation suggests new technologies which can fit or not with our people. Modern technology, but more particularly the process of design behind modern technology holds many opportunities and possible solutions for our community within a built environment. We are adept at being innovative.
Colonisation is an entirely different concept and indeed a threat. Our Community repels its interest in assimilating us and extinguishing our autonomous distinct Indigenous existence. The now well-documented and repudiated colonisation practices that created our ‘Stolen Generation’ and the ravages of mission settlements tore genocidal wounds that struggle to heal even to this day. Our people fill places called jail so disproportionately. Our infant children die in record numbers. We inhabit the poorest real estate and our youth take their own lives at frightening frequency. Now, plentiful illegal drugs ravage our young people in terrifying numbers. In some places once well regulated, peaceful, loving people now produce high rates of alcoholism, drug dependency and domestic violence unheard of in non-Indigenous societies living alongside us in the same environment.
A new way
Our Community sees our concept of hub and home as the track to our renaissance as a proud people with a self-determining future.
Our vision of ‘home’ is not for all Indigenous people – but it is the very heartbeat driving our local Community.
Our Community concept of home is for the most dispossessed—Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ‘without’. ‘Without’ means:
- without Western attributes of power such as:
- living in areas without land access, ownership or rights;
- living without governance or the right to self-determine how we want to live as the First Australians; or
- living without education, health or economies determined by cultural beliefs and attributes of our culture
But our Community also has strength that has developed from being and supporting each other despite having ‘without’. We as Indigenous people carry our principles of culture, belonging and being together. In our Community we are committed to the dream of building Community based upon these principles.
BHDC Ltd is centred upon a strong community-based movement aligned with Indigenous knowing and ways of doing things manifesting as a vision of what we desire our Community to be – leading first and foremost with housing.
Historically, our Community has experienced something of how our organisation might operate as a Community hub since its beginning in 1994.
The physical home shelters our people but it also symbolically, spiritually and culturally houses our hopes and dreams.
This conceptualisation of home represents the multifaceted potential that could stem from human services, industries and business being combined within a community through our Indigenous housing organisation – it is an opportunity for service delivery in a more holistic way with our members and families.
To our Community, a home is more than the simple bricks and mortar of a house – it is in fact
an Aboriginal shelter, made from the natural system, designed from Indigenous knowing and connection - it is sustaining of us and seeks balance within a natural system.
Our hub transforming our mob
BHDC Ltd has for many years sheltered our Community giving protection, voice and support to multiple services that have kept our people safe, well, working or supported throughout their life journey. Our Community’s current vision of ‘Our Hub Transforming Our Mob1’ offers transformational change in key areas such as culture, business, health, child care, elder care and education.
We strive to assert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and cognitive rights that have emerged through Community experiences over twenty distinct years as an organisation.
Our Community has witnessed how separated institutions and their actions can have the unintentional impact of cultural isolation and despair for our people.
In contrast, our Community favours a holistic service and care model with communal focus, responsibility and reciprocity. Our Community vision of ‘Our Hub Transforming Our Mob’ is one that embraces a holistic way of doing things – centred upon housing and business development, country and spirituality. We take care of each other. This has emerged in an urban environment that exists within Yugambeh country that inspires innovative cultural change within our Indigenous community
This visioning is grounded within Yugambeh Country by our concept of Jinndi Mibunn or the nest of eagle.
The eagle’s nest is the shelter for the vulnerable offspring - the future of Indigenous people. It enables and is part of essential nourishment and protection – it is made up of many different smaller parts of a natural system.
Our conceptualisation is to draw together like the eagle, different aspects of a system to build a nest to nourish our Community. The nest and eagle, like the hub and those who nourish it – our stakeholders, supporters, ourselves, strengthen future generations still to be true to their identity; they are still eagles. Like Mibunn that still graces the Twin Rivers of Logan we too survive with pride and success in a system that is both a natural and Western built system.
1 Vision statement emerged from a planning day 2013 facilitated by Dr Tony Watt with volunteer board