A Moruya youth program working to bridge the gap between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community is going from strength to strength, with the initiative recently attracting $5,535 funding from the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Walawaani Garindja, translating to ‘safe journey to our youth’, brings together local youth, their parents and Aboriginal community leaders to participate in activities every Wednesday alongside local police, youth workers, and volunteers.
It is a joint initiative of Eurobodalla Council, Far South Coast Police and Campbell Page, and Council’s community development officer Jordan Nye said the pilot program had exceeded everyone’s expectations since it kicked off in August.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this successful but the engagement we got from the community has been beyond expectations,” he said.
“We’ve got ongoing commitment not just from the kids but also community members coming in weekly to offer their time. To see everyone come together and get involved is quite powerful.
“It’s also the first time Council has had such a big number of Aboriginal people volunteering for a program, and they’re getting as much out of it as the kids.”
The collaborative program includes a healthy meal and activities such as dot painting, basket weaving, boomerang making and traditional dancing, as well as skateboarding lessons, touch football, and outdoor games.
“Aboriginal culture plays such an important part of the kids’ development – for our Indigenous youth it’s part of their identity and for our non-Indigenous youth it’s about giving them a chance to understand and feel our culture for what it is,” Mr Nye said.
“Respect is a big part of what we teach in the program as well as talking about how the kids’ actions impact our community as a whole.”
The recent funding allocation will help buy healthy food each week, equipment to support safe food handling and games, sports and art/craft supplies. It is hoped the program will attract more funding to help it develop further.
“Our vision is that Walawaani Garindja continues as a culturally appropriate, educational and social haven for the community on a Wednesday afternoon,” Mr Nye said.
“All are welcome to attend, it is completely free and no bookings are required.”
Walawaani Garindja is held at the Gundary Oval clubhouse on Campbell Street, Moruya, every Wednesday from 3.30pm-5pm.
Above: Basket weaving, boomerang making, dot painting and traditional dancing are a few of the Aboriginal cultural activities run by volunteers at Moruya’s Walawaani Garindja. For more information contact Council’s community development officer Jordan Nye on 4474 1289 or visit Council’s website www.esc.nsw.gov.au/youth