MDAS renewal takes shape

ABORIGINAL communities in Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang will get their first look at a proposed new Mallee District Aboriginal Services Constitution at a series of meetings across the region next week.
A major renewal of MDAS has been underway, with a membership drive last year boosting membership at the Mallee’s largest Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation from about 30 to more than 300. The membership elected five new board members in November at the AGM.
Interim chairman Damien Murray said the board and the new MDAS leadership had heard the community’s message that Constitutional reform was an urgent priority.
“We held member workshops in Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang last month to allow members to understand the opportunities ahead, as well as give them the chance to give voice to their concerns and priorities,” Mr Murray said.
“The clear message reflected what the board and our MDAS leadership already well understood – that we needed to urgently address structural problems so MDAS can become an organisation truly reflective of the communities we serve,” he said.
Mr Murray said work was being completed to draft a new Constitution that would address the key structural and Governance concerns.
“We heard what the members said, we have responded to that and now we are pleased to be taking a new proposed constitution back out to members for their feedback,” Mr Murray said.
“The need for self-determination and autonomy were key themes, and the proposed constitution addresses the need to have structures in place that allow all communities to have their own identity,” Mr Murray said.
“There is strength in our unity as a region, and in working together; but it’s crucial for us to be transparent, reflective and approachable to all of our communities,” he said.
Mr Murray said the workshops next week would be the next step in MDAS’ new approach to being a “listening” organisation.
“We need to support all of our diverse communities in a positive and confident way. They need to feel their voices are heard so we are genuinely adding value to the lives of all our mobs along the Murray river.”
The Member workshops will be held in Mildura on February 15 (1-3pm); Swan Hill on February 17 (12-3pm); and Kerang February 18 (10-12pm).
The workshops are for members only, but membership of MDAS is open to any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person living in the Mallee region.
More information is available at the MDAS website: www.mdas.org.au