The Dareton Youth and Community Drop-In Centre is a positive and safe place for local Indigenous youth around Dareton, NSW. They warmly welcome anyone in the community, and work with other agencies to run programs like art, sewing and music groups. Recently, a group from Gisborne Church of Christ visited the Centre through their own partnership with the project. Dave Gallus reflects on this visit below.
Reconciliation is a journey that starts at a threshold moment when there is a revelation about your relationship with another person or group of people. That revelation may be mustard-seed small or big-bang large; either way the journey that follows will be challenging, exciting, heart-breaking and life-giving in multi-dimensional ways.
Gisborne Church of Christ is on Wurundjeri country, 65km northwest of Melbourne. For some time we’ve been exploring how we as a church can engage in reconciliation with the First Peoples of this land now called Australia, both as individuals and as a congregation. We’ve been learning how important it is to sit and listen to the stories of our Indigenous brothers and sisters, whether they are easy to hear or difficult to accept.
We recently had the privilege of a small team visiting Sunraysia Indigenous Ministries at Dareton, NSW, on Barkindji country just over the Murray River from Mildura, to spend time with Ilker Deli and the mob at the Dareton Youth And Community Drop-In Centre. There was no plan beyond being there. And that was the essence of our time. To be. To be there. To be open. To be ready for whatever happened. To be looking for the opportunity to participate in Christ’s presence. To be fit enough to play pool and table tennis and PlayStation for two hours with the kids who know and trust Ilker and his purpose. To be brave enough to play darts with kids so excited they won’t wait for you to clear the dartboard before they throw. To be game enough to share in a feast and join in table-chat about things you don’t know about. To be humble about life and not judge by applying media-delivered stereotypes to kids and teenagers. To be able to see hope where statistics say otherwise.
Thanks so much to Dareton Uniting-Church of Christ, Wentworth Uniting and Mildura Church of Christ for your support to Sunraysia Indigenous Ministries and for welcoming us. And thanks so much to Ilker for sharing your joy and generosity and passion for this ministry Christ has laid on your heart. You gave us so much to mull over on our way home that the 500km trip to Melbourne wasn’t long enough. Hopefully, some of the same kids are there next time we come so we can extend the relationships in our journey of learning and reconciliation.
You can also support the Dareton Youth and Community Drop-In Centre through GMP’s partnership with them. You can find out more information, and give today, by visiting: www.gmp.org.au/what-we-do/projects/australia/dareton-youth-and-community-centre