A WIMMERA organisation is hoping the region's Indigenous community can stay connected while social distancing restrictions are in place.
Horsham's Goolum Goolum Co-Operative is seeking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to volunteer to record themselves reading out a page of a creation story recently published in a book.
With help from the Wimmera Southern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network, the co-operative published The Tchingal Creation Story in March. It features drawings by the Koorie Kids After School Club.(KOOKAS).
Goolum Goolum's Tanisha Lovett said the co-operative plans to create an online video of the story being read, and showcasing the children's art, with the footage it receives.
She says it thought of the idea in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
"The Tchingal story talks about the creation of the Grampians and the Wimmera River, which is significant to people that live in this area," she said.
"We didn't just want to send the hard copies out to homes and that just be it. We wanted it to be a big deal.
"So for now we are making it available online, and we are getting community involved so they are still engaged with us, and it's a project we can all sit back and feel proud of afterwards: being a part of it for our community and culture."
Miss Lovett said eligible residents that wanted to be involved could contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Goolum Goolum chairperson John Gorton said the region's Indigenous community had keenly felt the impacts of having to socially distance.
"We have been lucky so far in that we haven't had any cases, but our family groups are really interconnected," he said.
"Having family not come around every other day is probably the biggest factor people are struggling with, particularly some of the older community members that regularly have children and grandchildren see them.
"It is the same for families that aren't form here that sometimes travel to Swan Hill and other places their families are from: Other than talking to people on the phone, they have no people coming around to their house.
"Our elders are really the ones at risk because some of them have multiple chronic diseases, so if they catch it they won't survive."
Department of Health and Human Services advice states Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly those over 50 years old, are a high risk group due to higher rates of pre-existing medical conditions.
Mr Gordon, a Wotjobaluk man, said the co-operative had been hoping to up its community programs before the pandemic hit.
"The men's group was just starting to hit some goals. We learn welding and woodworking skills, talking amongst ourselves about traditions, that sort of thing, and it's the only men's program we have here. We had up to 20 men per session involved," he said.
"It's disappointing they are now on hold, and we are going to have to do a lot of rebuilding getting people back into the swing of coming to group sessions."
The co-operative remains contactable on 5381 6333.
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