Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) opens new centre | Photos, video

MANY years of work have culminated in Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative officially opening its new health and community centre this week.

The $5.7 million first stage of the organisation’s new centre on Prouses Road, North Bendigo includes three eye-catching buildings that house administration offices, the medical centre, and family and community services.

The new site also features car parks and landscaping, while an existing building has been transformed into an Indigenous men’s shed.

“Our new community and wellbeing centre has been a focus of our strategic direction for many years and resulted from the hard work and foresight of both past and present members of the BDAC board, staff, strategic partners, but most importantly, from listening to the needs of our community members,” chief executive officer Raylene Harradine said.

Ms Harradine said the design of the precinct had been inspired by the artwork of two local artists, Georgina Riseley and Trina Dalton-Oogjes.

Health general manager Dallas Widdicombe said this work depicted meeting places and tracks that joined them together, which had been reflected in the buildings on site and the paths that led between them.

Mr Widdicombe said the new medical centre had seven consulting rooms - two more than the old space - as well as dedicated spaces for allied health professionals.

Ms Harradine said the plan had been to create a “space that would suit the needs of our community, in a setting that provides access to the bush”.

The new premises brought the organisation’s services together at one location, she said, although some would continue to be delivered from its Forest Street site.

Ms Harradine said the new centre would also help support the growth of the organisation and its services into the future.

The land for the new site was purchased in October 2009 and funding from the federal government was secured in 2012.

Construction work began in late 2015 and Ms Harradine said the project was completed on budget.

The new premises were designed by Select Architects and built by local company Nicholson Constructions.

BDAC is now seeking funding for the second stage of the project.

This will include a childcare centre, community culture centre, café and community garden, conference centre, and training and education facilities.

The Aboriginal health organisation was formed 16 years ago in the wake of the loss of Bendigo’s Aboriginal primary health service.