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12 June 2013
Campers staying at the YMCA Mt Evelyn Recreation Camp will gain a closer understanding of their 'hosts' the Wurundjeri people, the traditional owners of the land thanks to some help from Deakin University students.
The students were able to put some time frames around existing ideas, expand on them and give the YMCA some new ones as part of Deakin’s Workshop for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (WOFIE).
WOFIE aims to bring the post graduate students’ entrepreneurial skills and innovative thinking to bear on the real problems faced by not-for-profits.
“Last year’s event attracted a range of Not For Profits – large and small,” said WOFIE organiser Dr Steve Ogden-Barnes.
“The main focus tended to be on gaining new ideas to drive membership, raise funds or increase local awareness and relevance, as with the challenge posed by the YMCA.”
Dr Ogden-Barnes said that based on the success of last year’s event, WOFIE 2013, to be held at Deakin’s Burwood Campus, would again focus on helping Not For Profit organisations.
“It will be specially relevant to organisations looking to get some new ideas on how to do things better, particularly in areas like social media or fundraising, by drawing on the youthful, multi-cultural, multi-discipline talent of Deakin’s postgrads,” he said.
Dr Ogden-Barnes encouraged local Not For Profits’ to contact him and get involved as ‘challenge providers’.
“There’s no cost involved - as a Not For Profit’, you can only benefit.”
YMCA Camp Manager, Trish Healy also encouraged other Not For Profits to get involved in the WOFIE program.
“We found the opportunity to be not only of value but great fun!,” she said.
“Apart from having a team of students working on our problem and providing new ideas and putting a time frame around some of our ideas we were able to ‘share’ the YMCA with them.”
Ms Healy said the YMCA Mt Evelyn Recreation Camp focussed on providing camping and outdoor recreation programs.
“The programs aim to develop leadership, creative thinking, communication, values and attitudes and use a range of activities such as a high ropes adventure course, flying fox, archery and environmental education to achieve this,” she said.
“However as we conduct our daily lives anywhere in Australia, whether that be going to work, going to school, doing the shopping, playing sport - we are doing so on land that is recognised as traditional Indigenous land.
“In the Shire of Yarra Ranges, where the camp is based, these activities take place on Wurundjeri land.
“As such, it is important to acknowledge this very real connection between past and present.”
Ms Healy said the YMCA had challenged the students to come up with ways to better communicate and integrate indigenous culture and heritage into the activities, operations and marketing of the Mt Evelyn Recreation Camp.
Ms Healy said apart from wanting all staff to be able to welcome all guests to the camp with an acknowledgement of country which the students suggested could be done within a year, they had hoped to develop an eco-centre.
“We had that in our pipeline of dreams but the students suggested we broaden that out to make it like a cultural heritage centre where along with the planned medicine garden and interpretative trail visitors could be immersed in the Wurundjeri culture and the Wurundjeri people could feel comfortable enough to use it as a meeting place,” she said.
Ms Healy said another benefit of the collaboration with WOFIE had been that the YMCA was able to explore future opportunities for collaboration between the University and itself including developing a residential camp with Deakin University students, and seeing if other YMCA branches wished to become involved.
“We were also able to share our involvement with our State Government partners, Sport and Recreation Victoria,” she said.
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