In January 1983 a small committee of local people met to discuss the needs of the Port Adelaide and Largs Bay Aboriginal community, particularly in the areas of childcare, youth, aged care, and health and fitness. The committee was considering opening a general purpose community centre to serve this population.
Through the meeting, the group chose to target 4 main groups of Aboriginal people:
- Urban populations.
These groups had some common needs such as housing, legal rights, medical services and employment. But each group had distinct lifestyles that needed to be taken into account when planning for the centre.
The committee hoped that a community centre would provide opportunities for Aboriginal people to have a break and access employment opportunities, training and employment.
At the time, Aboriginal people were facing radical discrimination in areas such as housing, employment, education and high rates of imprisonment. This eventually led to the development of programs that still run at the centre today such as childcare, youth, fitness and health, gym and Karrendi Disability Program.
One of the first major hurdles was finding suitable premises for the community centre. After a protracted search, including some opposition from local council and the community, the Sisters of St Joseph approved a 10-year lease in July 1985.
The committee sought urgent funds to operate an office, employ staff and write submissions to government for financial support.
Childcare was the first program to be backed by the Australian Government in 1987–88. The state government licensed the centre to provide childcare for 30 children under the age of 5. This was the real starting point for Kura Yerlo.
It wasn’t long before the Aged Care Program was then established. Through these two programs, there was enough money to establish an office with a full time coordinator and secretary. A grant from Australian Catholic Relief helped maintain the role of director for 3 years, finishing in November 1989.
It was a long struggle to establish the centre. But in 1989, it had a youth worker (made possible by the Jane Howard Trust QEH), Horne and Community (Department of Community Welfare), and women’s fitness program, which was coordinated by volunteer teachers who also supplied basic equipment.