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Group photo of the kids at camp

A partnership with Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation and the ETC Community Support Fund has given 23 local youth the opportunity to attend a ‘Returning to Country’ camp to connect further to their cultural roots.

Kirrawe CEO Rosemary Norman-Hill thanked ETC for funding which enabled the first camp to run in December with another planned for later this month.

“As many of our young people do not know where their traditional Country is (due to colonisation/Stolen Generations/people moving over the decades), through our youth programs we have discovered that young people hunger for culture, that they embrace cultural knowledge and benefit by being taken on camps to engage and connect,” Ms Norman-Hill said.

“Using strong, committed volunteers, we are supporting the young people as they go through this journey. The program intends to build the participants connectedness to their cultural roots and an understanding around personal leadership, self-confidence and teamwork. The activities will provide them with an opportunity to develop skills, explore who they are and test their personal limitations.”

Ms Norman-Hill said the Camps were targeted at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people aged 15 to 18 years with a particular focus on those who may be at risk of engaging in antisocial behaviours.

“It is a well-known fact that ATSI young people are overrepresented in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems,” she said.

“Through consultations held on the Gold Coast, data gathered from the Gold Coast Youth Justice Service and information collated by Kirrawe, there is a clear indication that many young Indigenous people living in this region are following this pattern.”

Didgeridoo player Leeton who attended the recent camp said it was great to come out and share a bit of culture with the kids.

“We’ve talked about our responsibility within our community. We’ve asked the group to have a think about their values, how they conduct ourselves and being a role model,” said Leeton.

15 year-old camp participant David said he had made new friends, enjoyed the food and learning new things.

“I really enjoyed myself and I’d love to see more of these camps. I’ve learnt that when you become a man you have to teach the little ones how to roll, take them down the good path and lead by example,” David said.

Local mother Leanne thanked Kirrawe and ETC for the opportunity which had helped her 15 year-old son turn a corner after some challenging times.

“The last couple of weeks has been very hard for us with Trent getting into some trouble. When the camp was offered to us we jumped on the idea,” Leanne said.

“This camp has been amazing for him – so thank you to everyone involved.”

Trent said learning about self-control was a big thing for him in addition to learning leadership skills at the camp.

“It was hard at first, not being on Facebook and having access to the Internet, but it was great spending some time out in bush,” Trent said.

“I’ve also been able to mentor some of the younger kids about Yarndi – to teach them about how bad it is.”

The next Returning to Country Camp will host 12 male youth participants focussing on pathways to employment, job skills and training. For more information about Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation visit www.kirrawe.com.au

ETC will be making available $250,000 in community grants as part of the next round of ETC Community Support Fund, which opens on 19 March. For further information and/or to apply to the ETC Community Support Fund visit www.etcltd.com.au/csf



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