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Wathaurong Youth Healing Centre

Creating a Safe Haven for Indigenous Youth in Geelong




Health & Workplace

In the heart of Geelong, two aging structures stood as relics of the past, awaiting transformation into a sanctuary for Indigenous youth. Merit Interiors took on the challenge with a steadfast commitment to create more than just a space – a place where culture thrives, and healing begins.

The Challenge

Merit Interiors was tasked with transforming these buildings into a cohesive Youth Healing Centre. The mission was to create a safe, welcoming environment for Indigenous youth while preserving the historical significance of the existing structures. The project needed to be completed within a fixed budget requiring careful planning and efficient execution.

The Solution

Our team approached this project with a deep sense of responsibility and creativity. Drawing on over 30 years of building experience, we made strategic choices in materials and finishes. Strong relationships with suppliers and trades enabled us to secure favourable pricing, essential to meet budget constraints while fulfilling the project’s vision.

Through extensive consultations, we ensured that the design met the needs and aspirations of the community. This inclusive process allowed us to create a space that balances modern functionality with cultural heritage. The design seamlessly connected the two buildings with a large outdoor deck and comprehensive landscaping, integrating new facilities without losing the historical essence.

Safety Considerations

Ensuring safety was a top priority throughout the project. We designed clear lines of sight, secure zones, and private spaces to foster a sense of security for all users. The facility now includes secure ICT areas, consulting rooms, laundry and shower amenities, a large outdoor basketball area, fire pits, a playground, and two yarning circles, catering to the diverse needs of the community.

Cultural Inclusivity

Cultural inclusivity was central to our design approach. By collaborating with local Elders, we ensured that the space honoured the history and heritage of the Indigenous community. The design incorporated elements that maintained a connection to the past while introducing vibrant cultural expressions, creating a space where both Elders and youth feel a strong sense of belonging.

Landscape Features

The landscaping around the facility includes paved pathways, timber pergolas, and dedicated yarning spaces, fostering an environment for reflection and community gatherings. The outdoor areas are equipped with fire pits, a nature play area, and indigenous food gardens, creating a space that is both functional and culturally enriching. Decking boards and granitic pathways provide additional outdoor seating and accessibility, enhancing the overall user experience.


The transformation of the Wathaurong Youth Healing Centre in Geelong underscores our commitment to creating safe, inclusive, and culturally respectful spaces. Completed on time and within budget, this project highlights our ability to blend modern functionality with historical reverence, providing a welcoming environment for Indigenous youth and the wider community. This project stands as a testament to our dedication to fostering community well-being and cultural integrity.