IT'S OFFICIAL: Nerrie Watson, Uncle Bevan Costello and Leon Abdul-rahmah cut the cake to officially declare the Muran Djan Centre open.
IT'S OFFICIAL: Nerrie Watson, Uncle Bevan Costello and Leon Abdul-rahmah cut the cake to officially declare the Muran Djan Centre open. Laura Blackmore

Community celebrates opening of Muran Djan Centre

A CHERBOURG centre that helps men turn their lives around has been officially opened in Cherbourg as part of NAIDOC Week.

The Muran Djan Centre and Yarning Circle was established by the Barambah Local Justice Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation to provide a culturally appropriate space for men in the community to access support.

For two years, the centre has been helping men who have committed domestic violence offences and need rehabilitation.

Master of ceremonies at the opening last Thursday was Uncle Bevan Costello, who started the proceedings with a Welcome to Country and explained the incredible impact the centre has had in the community.

"The use of this space allows us to live the values of the lore, not the law as in L.A.W, but the Aboriginal way of the lore,” Uncle Bevan said.

Uncle Bevan said domestic violence was never part of their culture, but in today's society it had become a real problem.

"In our community we had a lot of support for women and children, but nothing set up for the men who were committing these offences,” he said.

"With this space we have been able to offer support to men so they can be rehabilitated and hopefully go back to their families.

"Instead of being inside, we can come outside to the yarn circle, put on the kettle to have a cuppa and have a good yarn together.

"Also, as men aren't allowed to go home when they are released from jail, this place offers them an opportunity to reconnect with their families and invite them to the circle to try to start rebuilding the trust.”

At the end of Uncle Bevan's yarn, he invited men from the crowd to sit around the yarning circle so Uncle Steven Hart could conduct the traditional Smoking Ceremony.

After the sacred ceremony, the Muran Djan team and participants took to the stage to speak about their involvement with the centre.

Tamara Bell has been acting as the indigenous justice officer in Cherbourg for the past two years, but has recently handed the role to Cherbourg local, Adam Chapman.

The pair addressed the crowd and said they were excited to see a shift happening in Cherbourg.

"It's so wonderful to see all the men come together,” Ms Bell said.

"If you look around here today all the men, including the sergeants, police officers and a former magistrate, are all taking amongst themselves.”

Previous South Burnett and Cherbourg magistrate Andrew Hackett was at the event, and Uncle Bevan credited him with planting the seed which led to the establishment of the centre.

Once the speeches ended, Uncle Bevan had the responsibility of cutting the red-laced ribbon as well as the table sized cake to officially declare the centre open.

The audience was treated to the cake while cheering loudly for the Wakka Wakka dance group who performed a highly entertaining show for them filled with traditional dances.

Guests were then invited to join the community for a Kup Murri lunch, which is a traditional way of cooking that involves slow cooking meat on hot coals underneath large dirt mounds. Guests were able to sample different types of meat such as pork, goat and even echidna.

The Muran Djan Centre is at 86 Barker St, Cherbourg and is open throughout the week.