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A history of FORWAARD Aboriginal Corporation

In 1967 our founding members Vai Staton, Barbara Cummings, Veronica McClintic, Kathy Mills and Betty Pearce, began providing meals and counselling to Aboriginal men living in the long-grass in and around Darwin. This small group of volunteers developed a network of individuals who provided food, showers and a safe shelter in their homes, to Aboriginal men who were suffering from the combined effects of alcohol and homelessness. These crusaders provided all the funding for these services, wanting only to bestow much-needed relief to the vulnerable people, who were living within their community.

The founding member, named the organisation the Foundation Of Rehabilitation With Aboriginal Alcohol Related Difficulties (FORWAARD), reflecting that we will move forward and continue to assist those of our society who weren’t in a position to support themselves.  These dedicated women continued to provide this method of support until 1978. When on the 5 of September, they were informed of their success in tendering for a grant, from the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The purpose of the grant was to purchase a permanent location for the corporation, which centred on our current location, at Charles Street in Stuart Park.

After many years of toil, the residence that is now on the Charles Street block opened, and on the 1st of November 1988 the Larrakia people, the traditional owners of the Darwin region bequeathed the name “Gwalya Goolmora” on the centre. Gwalya Goolmora means “No Grog” a term which symbolises the philosophy that those living at these premises are free from alcohol and drugs

The FORWAARD facility now accommodates up to 16 residents, catering for both males and females with alcohol and drug related problems.  The corporation offers a holistic approach to the treatment and recovery for mostly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, through our ongoing support and care programs.

FORWAARD has come a long way, since 1967, overseeing significant changes throughout this time. However, the one thing that has remained as a constant, is that we continue to provide the same level of care and support for vulnerable people, that was provided, these many years past, by our founding members. We still offer food, showers and a safe shelter. Moreover, these are provided in conjunction with rehabilitation programs, continuing care services and family education programs, providing support to families who are living with substance misuse through their loved ones.

Today, the FORWAARD team takes pride in our history, as it outlines for them the foundations of our future, characterising our long-standing commitment to improving Aboriginal health, through alcohol and drug rehabilitation.


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