Showing their commitment to the Great Southern of Western Australia, Southern Aboriginal Corporation (SAC) are refilling and distributing hygiene packs across regional southwest WA to vulnerable community members.

SAC Chief Executive, Asha Bhat, approached Member for Albany, Peter Watson, to ask for support in securing in demand products—particularly items like hand wash and hand sanitiser—to be provided along with other hygiene essentials to Noongar Elders who are self-isolating in communities.

“Through our consultation in the region we have uncovered a few areas of importance and have been working with various stakeholders to assist communities struggling in these areas,” Bhat said.

“Even though the Government has provided stimulus packages for people on welfare, at a time when the healthcare system is dealing with this crisis, it’s especially important to increase access to hygiene packs.”

Bhat said she is thankful for the ongoing support from the Member for Albany.

“We are proud to be taking the leadership to support Noongar people in the Great Southern region at this crisis time.”

To assist women and girls during COVID-19, SAC has teamed up with Share the Dignity.

A charity combatting period poverty in Australia, Share the Dignity provides sanitary products to women and girls who may be experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic or family violence, or who may be vulnerable in other ways.

“We distribute sanitary items to those in need and through the donations from Share the Dignity we can make a real difference in the lives of women and girls who are impacted by family [or] domestic violence and homelessness issues,” Bhat said.

“It takes effort to build and nurture these partnerships but that’s the work I am good at and feel so fulfilled and satisfied [by].”

So far, Bhat has managed to secure sponsorship and donations for SAC care packages from:

  • Good360 Australia
  • Share the Dignity
  • Salvation Army’s Second Bite program
  • Dutjahn Sandalwood oils
  • Mount Romance Sandalwood Factory
  • Aesop
  • Givaudan Foundation
  • Stephen Tjamu Birkbeck
  • Darren Farmer
  • Peter Watson.

With cars literally full of donations, Bhat hopes to foster these partnerships to provide more frequent assistance to Great Southern communities during COVID-19.

“We will continue to work with other donors in the coming days to provide more packages to respond to COVID-19,” she said.

“The Noongar members from small towns in Great Southern are still struggling to get basic essentials and are requesting for basic food packages.”

Asha Bhat (L) with donations received from the Salvation Army. Photo supplied.

SAC has also been supporting members during COVID-19 by producing information videos on changes in the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA), the process for getting Family Violence Restraining Orders and the cycle of violence, while continuing to provide core services.

With a passion for giving back to community, Bhat has worked for SAC since 2008 and represents over 5,000 Noongar people in the region. She was a finalist in this year’s Telstra WA Business Women’s Awards.

By Hannah Cross