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2 June 2021
Uncle Vince, left, with Nova Peris, centre, Diane Hobbs, centre left, Peter Hobbs, centre right, and staff and students from the local school.
Words staff writers
At Bellarine Peninsula Salvos, set up on four hectares of Wathaurong Country in Victoria, reconciliation is at the heart of the vision for the local community.
Their vision is focused on establishing an Indigenous space where locals can engage in truth-telling, reconciliation and sharing of life experiences. Healing and learning can then flow back into the community.
The vision for this centre came from a friendship between Australian Olympian Nova Peris; Mutti Mutti Elder and founder of Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Uncle Vince Ross (life long Salvo and Convenor of the Army’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group); and Captains Peter and Diane Hobbs (Salvos officers [pastors] on the Bellarine Peninsula).
Bellarine Peninsula Salvos – known as The Ranch – was set up as “a safe and creative retreat for people to find themselves and explore their destiny and purpose”, explains Peter.
Based on four hectares in Clifton Springs, the property serves the wider community through church gatherings, youth groups, child trauma and family therapy, a homelessness outreach van, art therapy, student mentoring, 12-step groups and more.
With yarning circles at the property already offering a safe space to share and reflect, seven students connected to Bellarine Peninsula Salvos engaged in a partnership last year with Nova, Uncle Vince and Clifton Springs Primary School to help create a more inclusive and educational space around local Indigenous culture and history at The Ranch.
The goal is for the initiative to be community driven, with guidance and support from Nova, Uncle Vince, the Narara Aboriginal Cultural Centre and others.
As the team come together, Peter says they are building from a familiar foundation. “The idea of yarning circles is already basically our community model as it stands. We listen to each other, care for each other and just work out life and faith together,” he says.
For Bellarine Peninsula Salvos, reconciliation in action means “really listening to God, really listening to others and taking the next right step”, says Peter.