We catch up with Coffs Harbour Aboriginal Social Events Committee (CHASE) – Chairperson Reuben Robinson.
Tell us about yourself – where do you work, and how did you become involved with CHASE?
Giinagay, I’m a Proud Gumbaingirr Man from the Nambucca Valley who grew up in Coffs for just about all my life.
I am currently a Community Project Officer for the North East Region of Department of Education & Communities, Office of Aboriginal Affairs NSW. I’m on secondment for 6 months from the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office, where I’m a Project Officer and have worked for AHO since 2002.
I became involved in CHASE as a community representative when the committee asked me to MC their first Mr NAIDOC Strut in 2009. From there, I continued to support the committee and was elected as Chairperson the following year, and I’ve held this position since then.
What exactly does CHASE do?
The CHASE Committee voluntarily organises Aboriginal social events within the Coffs Harbour and surrounding area in conjunction with the community and local Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Organisations/Agencies (eg. NAIDOC Week celebrations and Community Easter and Christmas Party)
CHASE is a voluntary committee particularly focusing on Abor Events and consists of a Chairperson (myself), Treasurer Lloyd Lynwood – Coffs Council Rep and Secretary Noelene Skinner. We have additional members, but they vary at each meeting based on availability. However, CHASE has a core group of individuals, with Executive who continually contribute to our events locally
We specifically aim to co-ordinate NAIDOC week planned activities with associated organisations/agencies (Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal) in and around Coffs Harbour, ensuring a full week of entertainment, cultural and Aboriginal heritage, while providing an enjoyable Aboriginal experience through our planned NAIDOC activities and functions for the whole Coffs Harbour region.
How is CHASE funded?
CHASE coordinates funding for all events via direct funding (Govt and non-Govt agencies), donations, as well as in-kind or financial contributions from various local organisations and agencies. We particularly work closely with the Aboriginal Community Development Officer located in the Community Development Unit within Coffs Harbour City Council and have developed a satisfactory working relationship with the CHCC, which we seek to maintain and continually enhance.
Although we’re limited in our funding resources, CHASE is very reliant on our local Aboriginal organisations to assist with all of our events. The Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC), Galambila Aboriginal Health Service, the Deadly Sista Girlz (Women’s Group), ABCARE, and the Coffs Harbour Family Wellbeing Service have all greatly contributed over time, and CHASE would not be successful without these major partners.
What upcoming events is CHASE currently organising?
CHASE is planning for another successful Christmas Family Fun Day, which has been held in conjunction with the Coffs Harbour Memorial Swimming Pool for the last 2 years.
The swimming pool site is significant to the local Aboriginal people, as it was previously occupied by the local Aboriginal people and known as the Aboriginal Camp. It still has significance today, with several significant sites all along Coffs Creek, and CHASE is glad its relationship with Coffs Memorial Swimming Pool will continue to allow a return to this significant site.
CHASE has also been approached several times to consider a possible junior debutante ball for the local Aboriginal youth, and this could be on the agenda in the coming 12 months.
CHASE is also considering the option of a regional youth disco/dance, but plans are still in the discussion stages, so watch this space.
How can members of the public or local businesses assist CHASE?
CHASE is always willing to accept donations and particularly volunteers to assist in any of our planned events, and generally we seek contributions/funding in the lead up to any associated events/activities.
We are currently developing a Facebook page, showing all pictures from events in 2012, as well as providing an avenue for CHASE to be contacted and further promoted.
Where can people go to find out more information?
At this stage, contact can be made directly to myself as the Chairperson, or alternatively, our 2 other Executive representatives are Lloyd Lynwood (Treasurer) – Community Development Officer within Coffs City Council or Noelene Skinner (Secretary) – Coffs Harbour TAFE, as our Facebook and email pages are in the process of development.
Tel: (02) 5622 8870
Mob: 0425 395 669
Interview by Jo Atkins.