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Our Story

Our inspiration

The unrealised and often hidden capacities and diverse cultures of Indigenous Australia inspired us to try and provide an opportunity to  promote those qualities while at the same time incubating and developing new indigenous businesses and creative enterprises, building proprietor confidence and creating social and economic capital for the Koorie community. The success of the initial markets further inspired us to develop the markets into a sustainable and ongoing  endeavour.  We are further inspired by the great cooperation and participation between diverse Indigenous demographics, bringing people together to build stronger, economically self-reliant Indigenous communities.
All stallholders are Indigenous artists and artisans promoting their diverse cultures and skills. For many stallholders, the markets are the first opportunity to sell their artwork and many have gained the confidence to take the next steps to developing their business.

Our beginning

The Koorie Night Market (KNM) was initiated by the Indigenous community, emerging initially from the Darebin Aboriginal Reconciliation Working Party in 2000.  The dream was kept alive until a series of trail markets were sanctioned by DATSICC[i] in 2007. The project was seen as a powerful vehicle to increase Indigenous participation in the local economy, preserve and enhance cultural identity and raise the profile of Indigenous people within the City of Darebin and beyond.The three trial markets held at the  Northcote Town Hall in March 2008 were successful beyond expectation. In excess of sixty stalls comprising more than 100 Indigenous artisans, small business proprietors and community members, displayed their wares in an atmosphere of vibrant community celebration. Commercially, high sales were sustained across the three nights, estimated at $80,000 in total. For Indigenous stallholders and their families, the markets were a key to celebrating, promoting and often discovering and reclaiming their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. For 64% of the non-Indigenous community, the markets were the first opportunity to meet and connect with Indigenous people.The trial markets were organised by a small but dynamic team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff and funded by the City of Darebin and delivered in partnership with more than eight public and private sector organisations. Partnerships and Indigenous-non-Indigenous collaboration have emerged as a key ingredient to enterprise success and sustainability. The extraordinary success demonstrated the need for such projects in Victoria for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and mobilised our partners to keep the vision alive. Inspired by the potential of the project, WISE Employment Ltd Community Investment funded two Indigenous workers to coordinate markets in 2008/ 2009. 
The Koorie Night Market is governed by Indigenous people through Koorie Night Market Inc (KNM Inc); a majority Indigenous-controlled organisation. Board members represent stallholders, the Koorie community and partner organisations. The KNM Inc Board is also a forum for building the capacity of the next generation of Indigenous leaders, with experienced members mentoring less experienced but enthusiastic Koorie Board members. The focus is on sustainability of KNM Inc and the markets well into the future.

Now

Since the initial markets in 2008 the Koorie Night Market has expanded well beyond Northcote and now regularly moves around  Melbourne from Epping to Williamstown, Mornington to Broadmeadows.  In 2010 the Market went to Mildura with great success and in 2011/12 Bendigo and other regional cities can expect a visit from the Koorie Night Market.  A further development in 2010/11 has been the  Koorie Mini-market where a small number of stallholders set up in conjunction with other events or festivals such as Big Fella at Falls Creek and the Long Walk at Federation Square, Melbourne.  It is envisaged that Koorie Night Market will develop further through 2011/12, while maintaining its integrity as an  Indigenous-controlled, sustainable event which has the following key objectives:
• The Market as Cultural Showcase:  provide the Indigenous community with an opportunity to use traditional craft practices to rebuild their cultural heritage and reclaim their Indigenous identity.
•Help Indigenous artisan-stallholders to revive pride in Victoria’s Indigenous culture and traditions. Provide a resource for community education and create a space for non-Indigenous people to learn about Koorie culture.

• The Market as Business Incubator:  Most Koorie Night Market stallholders want to further develop their business idea. The markets provide a safe space for stallholders to test their business idea and gain the confidence to take the next steps.
• The Market as Meeting Place: Provide a safe and positive space for local Indigenous people to meet together and for non-Indigenous people to come together with Indigenous people.  There are very few such spaces in the local social landscape. Surveys showed that for many Victorians, the markets are the first opportunity to meet Koorie people.
• The Market as Community Builder: Strengthen relationships within and between Victoria’s diverse Indigenous communities. Develop community strength and resilience.  [i] The Darebin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Council (DATSICC), a Special Committee consisting of eight Indigenous community leaders and Darebin City Council representatives.


[i] The Darebin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Council (DATSICC), a Special Committee consisting of eight Indigenous community leaders and Darebin City Council representatives.