Healing land, healing people
Being a young person isn’t always easy. It can be particularly difficult if the young person feels neglected or marginalised by a system they don't fully understand. Without guidance or support from those around them, there is a chance that, at some time in their young lives, a young person could get caught up in the justice system.
Noongar people in the Great Southern, like Aboriginal communities elsewhere, are collaborating with government and other community organisations to develop strategies to divert young people from experiencing juvenile detention. In partnership with Gondwana Link, a not for profit bush regeneration organisation, Nyoongar leaders in the ‘Aboriginal Corporation of Noongar Youth Diversion Programs’ are placing young people at risk of offending, into a program lead by Noongar elders. The program 'Healing Land, Healing people', recruits Aboriginal mentors from the local community to teach young people about respect for self, land and culture.
Boxing champion, Eugene Eades, is one of the program mentors who talks about the value a positive cultural identity has on community. As an Aboriginal elder and disciplined sportsman he is also helping young people taking part in the program to understand their responsibilities in relation to caring for country. On a remote property of degraded land being rehabilitated by Gondwana Link, Eugine and other mentors demonstrate traditional cultural practices, show how to identify various species, collect seeds and revegetate the land.
Supported by a Lotterywest grant, it's still too early to see the whether the intensive 'live in' program will have a significant impact on youth detention rates. The young program participants are however being given the opportunity to learn important skills and connect with others. It is also likely that, once given training accreditation as well as promoting good ecological practices, the program could redirect the path of these young people into a career associated with land care.
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