First Nations Elder

The Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BADAC) and the Victorian Government have turned the first sod on the construction of an Elders’ Independent Living Community near Ballarat’s city centre, supported by a $2.6 million investment from the Regional Infrastructure Fund.

The project hopes to provide culturally specific independent living for older First Nations people.

BADAC Chief Executive Officer, Karen Heap, said, “This infrastructure funding is a powerful symbol of this State Government’s commitment to genuine Aboriginal self-determination and willingness to ‘Close the Gap’.”

The project is part of BADAC’s goal to strengthen First Nations families in their local communities through health, social and community development programs.

Victorian Minister for Regional Development, Harriet Shing, said “Projects like the BADAC Elders’ Independent Living Community are so important in delivering facilities, inclusion and spaces to regional Victorian communities.”

Located near Ballarat’s city centre, the village will help older First Nations people share their culture and lead their communities.

The project includes eight self-contained units, a central hall for community meals, treatment rooms for medical personnel and a vegetable garden, enabling First Nations Elders to live independently while receiving care.

Ballarat-based D.R.A.R. Constructions will build the village, creating 160 jobs during construction and four ongoing roles at BADAC once complete. Cultural themes and spaces are being designed in consultation with Elders.

Victorian Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, Gabrielle Williams, said, “We’re pleased that construction is underway on this important project, paving the way for Aboriginal Elders to continue to support and guide their local communities.”

There are more than 700 Aboriginal people aged 45 and over across five local government areas in western Victoria – including Ballarat, Moorabool, Hepburn, Golden Plains and Pyrenees – who may need support as they get older.

Member for Eureka, Michaela Settle, said, “We’re investing in projects that matter across Ballarat and this investment will help local Elders get the care they deserve.”

The Regional Infrastructure Fund is part of the Government’s Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund. The Fund is key to the government’s record investment of more than $36 billion across regional and rural Victoria since 2015.

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