Creating a Learning Community

In July 2015, despite efforts made to recruit new people, the IHH dropped to only four residents.  We decided therefore not to host hospital guests in Term Three. Instead we used the time to review our community engagement strategies, and put some energy into hosting events and making connections with local mobs and people that would extend our networks and strengthen support for the project and the residents.  

It has a been a rich and nourishing time!

We hosted visitors from several churches and organisations including Whitley College, L’Arche, Urban Seed and the Railway House Reconciliation and Respect group; caught up with IHH alumni; ran a series of conversations on Everyday Spirituality and a Bible study on Lamentations; and held a Cancer Council Pancake Brunch.

We worked on a community engagement plan with Dusk Liney from Inspirit Creative, and got some conflict resolution training from Shawn Whelan.

We represented the IHH at several conferences and gatherings including the TEAR Gathering, the ‘Teach Anything Good’ day at the new Kathleen Syme library in Carlton, and a ‘Forming Disciples in Mission’ colloquium at the Melbourne Korean church.

We walked a prayer labyrinth, sang songs and told stories at the Church of All Nations to celebrate and strengthen our partnership of nearly 15 years!

We attended various cultural activities such as the Ngarrindjeri postcolonial conversation with Ken Sumner (the chair of Congress in Victoria), a Coranderrk mission visit during Wurundjeri week, a workshop on Aboriginal languages run by Mandy Nicholson from VACL, and Yarnin’ films at the Footscray Arts Centre.

This time has been an investment in the second part of IHH’s purpose: to be a place where we can help people explore what it means for their identity and faith in practice to be non-Indigenous people living on Aboriginal land.  This is the gift of being involved at the IHH for residents, but also for visiting volunteers, those on our Business Committee and others who have the opportunity to share the stories and join in the learning journey we are all on.

In 2016, we have new residents coming on board, but we will also be opening up more ways for people to be part of our learning community without having to move in. 

Stay tuned!

Sharing food and stories in Unit Two.

Sharing food and stories in Unit Two.

Clare Landy talks about her book  Decolonising Solidarity  with the Railway House Respect and Reconciliation group at IHH.

Clare Landy talks about her book Decolonising Solidarity with the Railway House Respect and Reconciliation group at IHH.

Uncle David Wandin at Coranderrk Cemetery during Wurundjeri Week.

Uncle David Wandin at Coranderrk Cemetery during Wurundjeri Week.

Lamentations Bible Study

In term three the IHH community gathered around the Biblical book of Lamentations and read it in light of our own context at the house and the broader Australian context. We found that the story of the Israelite people and their prolonged suffering at the hands of invaders could be related to the suffering of Indigenous people in our own country. We were also challenged by the idea of needing to sit in the tension of difficult circumstances and become better acquainted with our own pain and the pain of others. The realisation that the book of Lamentations offers no resolve to the circumstances faced by the people of Israel is at once confronting and also honest to our shared human experience.

It was a valuable time of learning together. I'm looking forward to sharing more of these spaces to engage with the Bible and current events in the near future. I would invite all those interested in learning more to keep an eye on our website, Facebook page and emails for the next opportunity to come along and join in!


This is one of the texts that we read alongside the book of Lamentations, Oodgeroo Noonuccal's 'We Are Going':

They came in to the little town
A semi-naked band subdued and silent
All that remained of their tribe. 
They came here to the place of their old bora ground
Where now the many white men hurry about like ants. 
Notice of the estate agent reads: 'Rubbish May Be Tipped Here'. 
Now it half covers the traces of the old bora ring. 
'We are as strangers here now, but the white tribe are the strangers. 
We belong here, we are of the old ways. 
We are the corroboree and the bora ground, 
We are the old ceremonies, the laws of the elders. 
We are the wonder tales of Dream Time, the tribal legends told. 
We are the past, the hunts and the laughing games, the wandering camp fires. 
We are the lightening bolt over Gaphembah Hill
Quick and terrible, 
And the Thunderer after him, that loud fellow. 
We are the quiet daybreak paling the dark lagoon. 
We are the shadow-ghosts creeping back as the camp fires burn low. 
We are nature and the past, all the old ways
Gone now and scattered. 
The scrubs are gone, the hunting and the laughter. 
The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place. 
The bora ring is gone. 
The corroboree is gone. 
And we are going.

Conversations with a Four-year-old

Recently we had some old friends from Dareton come and stay with us. On this trip they brought their spritely four-year-old daughter and niece with them. The first few of days were spent quietly playing with the toys in the toy corner but by day three or four her mum sat down with me at the kitchen table as we had breakfast.

The young girl's mum and I chatted over our cereal while the little one was engrossed in her iPad game. Then across the table she began explaining what she was doing to me. 'See, this is what you do, this is how you play! See, do you like that one? Do you like that one?'

As her mum went to have a shower and I drank my cup of tea the four year old kept talking and talking. Slowly she moved closer to where I was sitting, until she was right next to me. She even let me have a turn playing with her iPad, explaining how to play and encouraging me when I did well 'That's it cuz, you got it!'

As we played she noticed a man climbing a ladder in front of the house next door. 'What's 'e doin'?' she asked. 'I think he might be looking for a bee hive.' I replied, as we had noticed a small swarm of bees had been gathering there over the last few days. 

'They gunna get 'oney?'

'Well, yes, they might get honey, if they keep the bees. They might just need to put them somewhere else.'

'They like 'oney? I like 'oney.'

'I'm not sure, they may like honey, I like honey too.'

Later the next day as I was reading outside the inquisitive four year old came to join me. 

'Whatcha doin'?'

'I'm reading.'

I was by the outside fire pit, trying to keep my distance as I had developed a bad cold. She was not deterred. 

'Can I come over there.'

'Yeah, you can.'

As she looked around the backyard she wondered,

'You got 'ens?'

'No, we don't have hens, but we have thought about getting some.'

''Ens are good for eggs.'

'Yes they are, you're right.'

'I like 'em 'ens.'

'Yeah I like them too.'

Seeing that young girl, talking to her, being welcomed in to her world was a real experience for me. It is one of many precious experiences I have had while living at the IHH. These small, everyday things add up to create a great deal of difference over time. Most especially in me.

- Mehrin

Plenty going on

Take a look at the term 2 newsletter, and you'll see there has been plenty going on!  The trivia night was a hit, we learnt about 'Nature Play Wurundjeri Way' from landscape architect Jeff Nelson who worked on the awesome playground in Royal Park, singing Psalm 100 in Boon Wurrung language and more!

And of course, we are still seeking residents.  Get in touch if you want to know more, or come along on a Thursday night to learn more about what we do and why, and to reflect together on stories of hospitality as well as lamentation.