Mining a Healthier Indigenous Australia
29 August 2014 at 5:01 pm
The world of iron ore mining might seem like it is light years away from the world of Indigenous health and education, but CEO of the Murlpirrmarra Connection Darren Patten is bringing them together. Patten is this week’s Changemaker.
As the Community Liaison and Engagement Contractor at Golden West Resources Limited, a mining company based in the midwest region of Western Australia, since 2011 Patten made close connections with the local Indigenous Wiluna youth and their families.
In February 2011 he established the Not For Profit organisation Mulpirrmarraa Connection, which he said allowed him to continue his Indigenous engagement work in a more specific and intensive fashion.
He said by implementing a board, constitution and having Fred Chaney AO as the organisation’s patron enabled it to be the Indigenous policy for many of the surrounding mining and contracting companies in Western Australia.
Patten said that the goal for the Murlpirrmarraa Connection was to assist and support in the areas of education, sporting pathways, health, rehabilitation, discipline, self-confidence and employment prospects for young Wiluna men and women.
Patten was also an accomplished tennis player, rising to the rank of seventh in Australia in the sport, and even acting as the long tiem coach of the number one female player in Australia, Casey Dellacqua.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
We are currently working on a number of community programs which include, tennis tours to the remote regional communities, football clinics and player identification, football and basketball carnivals, a women’s empowerment program as well as our core objective which is giving Indigenous children educational options and maintaining their engagement.
What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
It was circumstance really. I was approached to work in another Indigenous NFP organisation and my passion grew from there as well as being born and bred in Geraldton and recognising that it only takes a small percentage of support to make a real difference in a young person’s life.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Seeing the young men and women that we support achieve their goals and their family’s pride.
What has been the most challenging part of your work? And how do you overcome that?
Maintaining the young men and women’s educational engagement and re-engagement. The pull back to community and country is very strong.
In terms of your work sitting on a Not for Profit board, what would you say is the key to an effective NFP board?
The key is to surround the table with a mixture of talents and minds. You need people to challenge the norm and find different solutions to the same problems.
I consider my greatest achievement to be…
A man is judged for what he says; say nothing and he shall not be judged.
I’m always being asked…
Through your work, what is your ultimate dream?
For our organisation and similar organisations to become unnecessary.
Where do you feel your passion for good came from?
My mother and father.