The Christmas Sleigh Project

Koori_SantaThe magic of Christmas will be coming to the Dhurringile Community Centre and Recreational Reserve thanks to a Small Town Festive Decoration Grant from the City of Greater Shepparton. The funding has seeded a creative partnership with the Tatura Men’s Shed and Dhurringile Prison.

The prison’s Community Service Team maintained the grounds around the hall and reserve, and worked alongside the Men’s Shed members to set up for a community Christmas celebration. Men from the team, known as the Bush Gang, also lent their carpentry skills to cut out the giant shapes and make stands to support the assembled pieces.

The Men’s Shed in Tatura were commissioned to make 15 handmade Christmas bauble decorations from wood, individually painted with different designs. These oversized baubles (1.2m diameter) are secured on star picket posts along the fences facing the entrance to the Reserve with twinkling solar fairy lights. We also have banners that say, Merry Christmas at Dhurringile.

Men enrolled in Box Hill Institute’s Certificate I Mumgu-dhal Tyama-tiyt course (Mumgu-dhal means message stick in Woiwurrung language; tyama-tiyt means knowledge in the Keeraywooroong language) have created three large wooden cut-outs as part of their Complete a Small Community Project with Support. They’ve brought the Aussie Christmas song “Six White Boomers” to life with little Joey riding in Santa’s sleigh across the outback, a bush animals Christmas scene, and a giant echidna in Santa hats.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students have contributed their artistic talents to create a fun, festive atmosphere for the local Dhurringile Community. The project involved the men working as a team to design and create the pieces, which included identifying resources, working to a timeline and communicating to achieve a common goal.  

“There have been some really wonderful learning experiences working on this project, enhancing the men’s future employability and communication skills. We’ve done it for the kids, which gives the guys a good feeling of service and connection to the wider community,” said Nickee Freeman, the trainer who supported prisoners with their project.