A flourishing friend
‘Moogji’ means ‘friend’ and the team working out of far East Gippsland absolutely reflect that.
The Moogji Aboriginal Council East Gippsland Inc., established in 1993 in the town of Orbost, offers a range of health services, from dental, a GP clinic, clinical nurse, counselling, Outreach Services and environmental health. The organisation promotes and fosters a healthy community and environment across far East Gippsland; from Nowa Nowa to the NSW border, including the high country, Delegate and up to the Genoa region.
Collaborating with, and supporting the Aboriginal community, is the core focus of the organisation, and their Aboriginal Economic Development – Social and Environmental Enterprises arm is assisting the community by providing valuable job opportunities, training, and pathway’s in Natural Resource Management. The team of 7 has been performing work on the lower Snowy River Project, which involves weed control and re-vegetation, and recently diversified into pest management, weed spraying and public asset maintenance.
In the past, Moogji has offered pathway jobs that have resulted in former staff members obtaining permanent work in positions such as Park Ranger. By placing local people in traineeships and employment, the organisation assists in providing work opportunities, reducing welfare dependency and encouraging local people to contribute to the community as a whole.
Moogji’s Nursery Enterprise, managed by Senior Project Manager Chris Allen, collects native seeds, and currently produces approximately 10,000 plants per annum for various projects. Today, the nursery operation employs 1 part-time person and is assisted by members of the (Natural Resource Management) NRM work crew. There is enormous potential for Moogji to expand their operations by partnering with other local organisations and larger social enterprises outside of the region. It is envisioned that Moogji can produce plants for large scale local infrastructure projects and mining operations that are currently in the early stages of development.
To reference singer/songwriter Paul Kelly; “from little things, big things grow”. And it is the GROW Gippsland program that is helping Moogji make the right connections to explore these exciting opportunities and lay the foundations for the nursery’s capacity expansion program.
Initiated by the local community, one of these projects, a land care proposal, involves the renovation of a bridge, walkways and rail trails, and is being discussed within the organisation. If this project receives the required government funding it may provide a significant boost to the economy during the construction phase, employing members of the local community. This project also has the capacity to become a tourist destination which could provide medium and long-term economic development for Orbost. This project has the capacity to boost the economy and employability of the local community.
‘Like baking a cake, we have all the ingredients, we just need to put them together’ says Chris. The organisation has a positive track record, drive, positivity for the future and a willingness to continue their social enterprise journey, including encouraging an inclusive workplace by opening positions for people with disabilities, the local Aboriginal community and beyond.
With the potential to benefit the local community and economy, Moogji is positioning themselves to deliver on the pipeline of work coming up in the region.