223 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

“The Aboriginal Health Service was established in 1973 at 223 Gertrude St, in order to provide accessible, supportive healthcare to the local Aboriginal community. Many other health, wellbeing and community projects developed from the Health Service, including the Koori Kollij training centre. The Service continues to operate from a number of locations in Melbourne, including at 186 Nicholson St, providing a crucial role in ensuring that Aboriginal people can access culturally appropriate and supportive healthcare. The mural along the side of this building was painted by Robert Young in 2017, and celebrates the work of the Aboriginal Health Service and the strength of the community it serves. The building is now a “social enterprise” restaurant run by Mission Australia which provides training opportunities for young Aboriginal people, and whose menu focuses on native Australian foods. This site is adjacent to the laneway known as Charcoal Lane, which was immortalised by Archie Roach in his award-winning 1990 album of the same name. In a 1999 interview, Roach described the local community’s name for the laneway deriving from the factory which backed onto the lane, where workers would “be shovelling bags of briquettes or charcoal” made on the site. The album interweaves Roach’s personal stories with those of his wider community, including notable songs such as “Down City Streets,” and most famously the song “Took the Children Away” about the experiences of the Stolen Generations. The Aboriginal History of Yarra site is an important resource for the area’s Aboriginal history, including video interviews, documentaries, and a walking tour of key sites of significance” – Lauren Piko – Yarra Past Port

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