On Monday, 1 June, I had the pleasure of visiting the South West Alternative Medium Project, or SWAMP, as it is more affectionately known.
SWAMP is an Indigenous-managed, volunteer-run, not-for-profit community arts organisation based in Portland, Victoria. Through its innovative programs, SWAMP aims to improve the wellbeing and disposition of people who are disengaged from society through improving their skills and socialising through a common goal.
SWAMP’s programs deliver a mix of life skills and health education programs aimed at empowering individuals and building their capacity to make a positive lifestyle change. Members of the community with mild and chronic mental health issues or drug and alcohol problems and those who are socially and economically marginalised have gained significant benefits through SWAMP’s great work.
Through its volunteers and program participants SWAMP also participates in a number of cultural festivals in the Portland area, including the Upwelling Festival, Portland Community Markets and the Winter Arts Indigenous arts exhibition, and often provides goods for sale at Julia Street Creative Space.
SWAMP provides a medium for local Indigenous artists to have their work displayed, as well as encouraging Indigenous artists, some of whom have very low self-esteem, to follow their creative passion.
I would like to thank Ms Deb Saunders, who took the time to personally take me on a tour of the SWAMP facility and explain the importance of the work it does in the Portland community. It is clear that Ms Saunders does an enormous amount of work for the not-for-profit organisation, as do all the volunteers involved in this excellent community organisation. I call on all locals in the district to support this wonderful organisation.