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  • Tamara Sheward

    TropicNow writer

    Email Tamara Sheward

    New Manunda centre fosters community connection for Indigenous clients

    It may be new, but a one-of-a-kind Manunda facility for Indigenous people with acquired brain injury has been thousands of years in the making.

    Billed as Australia’s first culturally-appropriate transition facility, the Synapse Warner Street centre will provide eight individual homes for people with complex disability.

    Synapse, a non-profit organisation dedicated to reconnecting the lives of those affected by brain injury, calls the centre the “first culturally safe and appropriate supported accommodation model for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia”.

    “The physical design and service delivery model reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture,” a Synapse spokesperson said.

    “The centre will reconnect people with their community in a culturally appropriate context.”


    Dr Shaneen Fantin of People Oriented Design (POD), which worked in collaboration with Synapse, Indigenous consultants and other architecture and design companies on the centre, said the units were inspired by traditional Aboriginal rainforest architecture.

    “We were seeking a way to recognise and embed Indigenous identity in the architecture without making references to totems or Indigenous ancestors,” Dr Fantin said.

    “Health buildings are often quite institutional in their design, atmosphere, materials and finishes.

    “This facility is was designed specifically to be non-institutional, non-rectilinear or more organic and domestic in scale.

    “Indigenous people in Queensland have suffered institutional racism since colonial occupation and many buildings such as hospitals, court houses, schools and corrections facilities have reinforced the controls of colonial settlement.

    “The design and care in this facility aims to move away from those models, away from the institutionalisation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with disability.”

    Dr Fantin said the centre of the facility, which features a cluster of buildings in a rehabilitative garden setting, was designed with connection and community in mind.

    “The layout of the facility fosters connection with the outdoor spaces and the natural environment.

    “The model of care that Synapse will provide aims to support rehabilitation in many ways including being with family, gardening and connecting with country, and day to day activities such as cooking and washing.”

    The Synapse Warner Street centre is located at 71 Hoare St, Manunda. For updates on the centre and information on Synapse, click here.