Uncle Alan Coe is a man of faith, and after the best part of his life doing things for others and volunteering for those in need his attention has turned to helping First Nations men coming out of prison enter a place where they feel welcome, can rebuild their relationships and lives with support networks around them.
The 52-year-old Wiradjuri, Eora and Yorta Yorta man now sits on the board of Warrigunya non-for-profit in Gippsland, Victoria.
Warrigunya recently signed the contract to build a transition home project to house those coming out of prisons.
In 2018 Uncle Alan saw the issues with recidivism affecting his mob when visiting men in in jail.
“They’d go’ Uncle Al, I’m going home next week so we wont be here when you come back’,” he said.
“A month down the road, two months down the road, you go in there and they’re back in jail.
“The first thing they say is there’s no housing, what are we supposed to do?”
A property was sought after going through a line of contacts, before Uncle Alan and his team applied for Victoria Homes social housing growth fund.
“We applied for funding and lo and behold, we got three mil(lion),” Uncle Alan said.
Warrigunya will be the first of its kind in the state, providing social housing for men post-release from prison to stay for up to one year and engage with an on-site bush tucker garden, woodworking, art programs and employment support.
“We’re taking men who want to sort their life out, who want to be what their ancestors were,” Uncle Alan said
Expanding on the accomodation, the plan is to facilitate men back into secure relationships and encourage stable life going forward.
“If their relationships are healthy if the relationship between them and the children are healthy that’s a good thing,” Uncle Alan said.
“We want Warrigunya to be a family.
“We want to be a part of everyones family that comes and goes.”
The pelican-shaped Warringunya building, which means warriors home, is due to be completed by June 2023.