From the CEO 2009-2010 report
This year WYDAC has consolidated both the capacity and quality of our service. Providing consistent and stable youth development activities in Yuendumu, Nyirrpi, Willowra and Lajamanu requires not only a pool of committed Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal workers, but quality management processes that ensure real outcomes in all locations. Our activities continue to focus on preventative projects, alternatives to incarceration, mentoring and counselling, and caring for young people struggling with substance abuse and other personal issues.
After two years of hard work developing continuous quality improvement systems within WYDAC, we were rewarded with ISO 9001:2008 Certification in early August 2010. We believe this is of real significance in demonstrating the strong capacity of our Aboriginal Corporation to meet international standards of quality management and service delivery.
An exciting new partnership with indigo foundation has led to a commitment to pro-bono legal advice by Gilbert & Tobin. This has already proved to be a significant support to WYDAC as we continue to aim for accountability and transparency in all our affairs. Find out more about indigo foundation here.
We were delighted this year to be awarded Youth in Communities (FaHCSIA) funding, primarily for our Lajamanu Program. They will be able to renovate the old, tired recreation hall, and provide accommodation for our youth workers. Along with a youth worker salary, this will ensure the program in Lajamanu is structurally sustainable. This funding is a very welcome support to The Warlpiri Education Training Trust (WETT) funds, which have been the program’s only resource to date.
In October 2009 we held the Grand Opening of Stage 1 of the Warlpiri Regional Youth Development Complex, based in Yuendumu. This included the administration hub of WYDAC, and part-completion of the regional youth centre. We now ‘live’ in a beautiful building with room for all of us to work. The exceptional skills of Brendan Meney, architect/artist, resulted in spaces that are not only beautiful but functional and welcoming. The building ultimately won the Indigenous Community Architecture Award 2010.
The success of Stage 1 led to funding granted to undertake Stages 2 & 3 which will complete the recreation hall including a training kitchen and multi-purpose room, education/training and computer rooms, mentoring and counselling services, and Warra-Warra Kanyi and Jaru Pirrjirdi offices. We are also creating a community meeting space within the complex. This work, funded by the Aboriginal Benefits Account (ABA), will be completed mid 2012.
Testament to the success of, and respect for WYDAC, I was asked to sit on an expert committee for the National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC) to develop the Clinical Practice Guideline to Manage Volatile Substance Use in Australia. This is reinforced by ever-increasing requests to present at key conferences and workshops.
In keeping with our principle of providing pathways to meaningful futures for young Warlpiri, we have significantly increased our team this year. An Employment Policy was developed which details appropriate pathways from volunteers through to full-time workers. At 30 June 2010 there are 29 Aboriginal and 18 non-Aboriginal staff, with key positions being held by our local mob.
In ORIC news (Office of the Register of Indigenous Corporations), we were comprehensively audited in late 2009. The auditor noted:”The examination found that the corporation is well run, viable and solvent, and making a significant contribution to the community”. A small number of breaches regarding reporting on membership and meetings were noted, promptly addressed by us, and acknowledged as compliant by ORIC in January 2010.
Our 63 Member Board were devastated to learn that under the new CATSI Regulations we are only permitted 12 persons on the Board. This was considered to be completely unacceptable by our mob, who actually do RUN the program through the Board. A key element of Program success is that the Board consists of members of all family groups in Yuendumu, ensuring community wide representation and discussion. We applied to ORIC for a waiver of this limit, a compromise was reached and we may now have a total of 50.
In February, WYDAC had a final resolution to our claim to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner regarding the ‘Haven Incident’. This was the appalling incident where our young lifeguard trainees were asked to leave The Haven Backpacker Hostel in Alice Springs. Our young women showed dignity and maturity throughout the distressing incident. Executives of the hostel visited Yuendumu, talked with the claimants, and resolved the issue.
During the year the Outstation cared for clients referred for issues relating to alcohol and cannabis misuse, domestic violence, assault and criminal activity. We also took several clients from Tennant Creek who were engaging in solvent misuse – petrol, glue and aerosols. This was the beginning of a relationship with Tennant Creek community that we anticipate will be vital to the well-being of their young people. There was no petrol or other inhalant abuse in Yuendumu, Willowra, Nyirrpi or Lajamanu where WYDAC runs youth programs.
The Jaru Pirrjirdi Program tells its own remarkable story in this report, however one exciting development is the partnership with STEPS Disability Inc Qld. STEPS is funded by DEEWR to target disengaged youth between 12 -19 years old back into formal education. The aim is to increase the number of young people achieving year 12 or equivalent, and WYDAC is their partner in the Warlpiri communities. This has enabled Jaru Pirrjirdi, and particularly Jaru Night Club, to focus on clearer and higher educational outcomes. We are proud of the 31 Jaru Pirrjirdi graduates currently in positions of employment, training or leadership in the community.
The desert summer was as good as it gets at the Yuendumu Swimming Pool. Open for 201 incident-free days, with 12,118 patrons, the Pool continues to score goals. There is no doubt our kids have less ear, eye and skin infections, that more kids are going to school as part of the ‘yes school, yes pool’ policy, and that young people are employed as lifeguards and kiosk attendants. However pool operational funding remains elusive. We continue to hope the enormous health, educational, diversionary and employment benefits will one day be acknowledged and supported by people other than community members.
We are particularly proud of Warra Warra Kanyi Counselling and Mentoring Service. During this year, the team worked with 75 at-risk young Warlpiri people, with issues ranging from cannabis and alcohol misuse, depression, grief, relationship issues and family breakdown, as well as suicidal ideation and behaviour. There is more about their extraordinary outcomes later in this Report.
The Outreach Program has developed substantially this year, consolidating in all communities, and ensuring a consistent range of diversionary and media activities. The WETT Youth & Media Project supports Warlpiri youth people to develop their sense of self, family and culture through diversionary programs with a special focus on media. In Nyirrpi, Lajamanu and Willowra, an average of 1340 participants enjoyed 159 hours of sporting and recreational activities every week. In addition a total of 842 media hours engaged 1524 participants. PAW Media remain our partners and provide high quality training in media skills. Products produced by young people through this partnership can be enjoyed at www.wettmedia.com.au
Peggy Brown, OAM, Founder of Mt Theo Program yarned with Professor James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur, during his visit to Yuendumu in August 2009. The following is an extract of an article by Yuko Narushima, Indigenous Affairs Correspondent for the SMH, August 29.
The memory of Peggy Brown’s extraordinary success in stamping out petrol sniffing in her community on the edge of the Tanami Desert weighed heavy on the mind of the UN’s special rapporteur, James Anaya, as he wound up his 11-day fact-finding mission of Australia, outlining the problems of the Northern Territory intervention.
Ms Brown has an Order of Australia and founded the multimillion-dollar Mount Theo Program to rehabilitate substance abusers. She also has her income quarantined.
”I found her very inspirational,” Professor Anaya said, recalling her community-based solution to a local problem. ”She’s got this Australian medal of honour for her work and she’s out there on income management.”
In June, Andrew Stojanovski OAM and former Manager of the Mt Theo Program, launched his book Dog Ear Cafe, about the early days of Mt Theo Program. While we knew this was a story that should be told, to inform and to inspire, we have been astounded at how the wider community has embraced the book. After less than 6 weeks the publishers needed to do a second print run.
Then there are all the stories about our young people getting strong, standing up and staying up. So many good stories. The heart and soul of what we do, and what keeps us going. Like Bruno Wilson. Bruno successfully passed pre-Law at UNSW late in 2009, and has returned to continue his studies in 2010. A former Mt Theo client, he believes the best way for him to help his people is to understand the law, and help his Warlpiri family to navigate their way through it. Like Lance Inkamala. Lance has grown from being a client to a full-time Trainee Housing & Infrastructure Officer and valuable team member. Like Gina Spencer, who was instrumental in establishing Warra-Warra Kanyi and worked as Female Mentor supporting countless young women. She has now gone on to full-time employment with Warlpiri Rangers. Liam Jurrah, taking his place in the professional AFL world with such dignity, representing his people, and continuing to mentor our young people at home.
These young people and many more like them are clear evidence of the necessity and effectiveness of a community-based response to community issues. At the heart of this Report, in every story we tell, is Warlpiri cultural strength, pride, motivation, initiative and competence. And within that heart is the team that pulls it all together – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who have abilities, skills and experience to share in working toward a common goal. People who remain inexorably committed to learning from each other so that young Warlpiri men and women may reach their potential. That’s why it works.
My hope is that you will read our stories, and be encouraged.
CEO, July 2010