The Jaru Pirrjirdi Program is a youth development and leadership program, as well as an aftercare program for ‘at risk’ youth. It creates meaningful and positive futures for young adults aged between 15-25. Jaru Pirrjirdi operates on a 6 level structure, these levels represent growing degrees of capacity and responsibility for Jaru to work through towards future careers and pathways.
This year has been a very strong year for Jaru, with many young people proving their strength and self worth through the running of activities, projects, cultural knowledge, education, jobs and leadership status within Yuendumu community. The development of a strong educational and training focus has seen Jaru Pirrjirdi go from strength to strength and pave a path to furthering educational/career growth.
The youth program operates seven days a week in Yuendumu, every week of the year and incorporates several activities after school every day and a number of activities every evening. Most activities are run by Jaru Pirrjirdi youth worker trainees, who have the opportunity to move into casual, part-time or full-time work within the program. This work provides meaningful activity and responsibility as a stepping stone into more formal employment or education. Jaru Pirrjirdi have a strong role within the community as young leaders and perhaps a more important role is that of the ‘eyes and ears’ to identify youth who may be at risk through frequent contact by the running of activities.
Concurrent activities run with the help of Jaru Pirrjirdi trainees which allows for approximately 4-5 youth activities to be run daily. Over the past year there have been over 128 hours of activities provided by youth workers every week, with the help of 98 Jaru Pirrjirdi Volunteers.
The base of the youth program activities are football, soccer, basketball, softball, arts and crafts, disco’s, family nights and swimming. Beyond this, there are also specific project activities such as graffiti art, hip hop music and dance workshops. This year has been a positive year for youth program with a wide range of activities provided to high volume of youth.
The homework centre, run 2 days a week for an hour after school, continues to be an exciting activity for kids, which constitutes quality educational engagement and a healthy afternoon snack. Activities regularly provided are literacy, numeracy, art/craft, music and geography. Homework centre aims to further the education of 4-15 year olds and re-engage children who may not be attending school on a regular basis. Yuendumu school provides learning resources and the youth worker is assisted by Jaru trainees. Feedback from the school, youth and wider community has been very positive.
Over the last year homework centre has run 36 afternoons during the school term with an average daily attendance of 16.5 youth. Strong relationships built with the school means we are more apt to work one on one with children who may be struggling in certain areas with their school work. Homework Centre provides a fun and positive educational environment outside of the school setting.
Jaru Night Club continues to be the hub of meaningful activity for young people at night-time, running 3 nights every week of the school year. It provides enjoyable, practical learning opportunities for 15 – 25 year olds, and is a tool to re-engage young people back into formal education and training. A teacher from the school is provided 2 nights a week to help re-build broken relationships with the school and make the pathway back into formal education softer. Activities run at Jaru Night Club include music, soccer, art and craft, computers and worksheets. Other organisations both locally and externally use Jaru Night Club as the best forum for youth to engage and participate in important educational workshops such as sexual health, domestic violence, financial advice, driver licenses etc. Jaru Night Club has run for 96 evenings with an average nightly attendance of 20.8 youth.
Youth Connections is a new partnership with STEPS funded by DEEWR. It aims to target disengaged youth aged 12-19yrs back into formal education and is another step towards creating more meaningful, educated futures for young Warlpiri people in Yuendumu. Through the development of this partnership, we have been able to focus more on boarding school and Batchelor College applications and enrolments for the youth, and build a stronger tie with the local Yuendumu school to support kids in their educational futures.
Excursions remain a popular activity with the kids and Jaru where elders are invited to join the group out bush to teach the kids about land, culture, dreaming stories and how to hunt and gather local bush tucker. Excursions are generally run every Sunday as a whole day activity. Cultural excursions provide the opportunity for kids and Jaru to feel proud of their culture and empowered by their knowledge, increasing self-esteem and confidence.
Fortnightly culture evenings run by the school are supported by the youth workers and Jaru Pirrjirdi. The youth workers and Jaru help bring the kids to the school to participate and are seen to be supporting the learning of culture. As Jaru are the primary role models for youth this is a significant alignment.
A strong relationship has developed with the Central Land Council through their formation of a Warlpiri Rangers group based in Yuendumu. The recently hired ranger staff are predominantly former Jaru members and the opportunity to also have two Jaru Ranger Trainees as part of this formal Warlpiri Rangers group is developing for 2010/11.
Projects this year have been very successful. They reflect the importance of Jaru Pirrjirdi as a strong group of young people that external and local agencies wish to address in terms of government representation and communication of. Moreover, projects, such as driving licences, arts and sports projects create opportunity for Jaru to take part in more meaningful, quality activities.
This year we have done a huge amount of projects, some of the highlights are:
Community Summer Football Competition
Community Summer Basketball Competition
Winter School Holidays Auskick Competition
Winter School Holidays Softball Competition
All competitions are run by Jaru, scoring, umpiring, organizing, preparation, results and presentations.
Arts and Media Projects
Hip Hop dance and music projects in collaboration with Incite Youth Arts.
6 x 2 weeks vacation projects. CD’s produced and dance performances.
1 x 2 weeks of graffiti art workshops. WYDAC story painted on exterior of new office building.
Southern Ngalia Karnte Dance Camp- In partnership with Incite and former WYDAC youth worker, Natalie O’Connor. 3 day, 2 night Camp out bush learning traditional singing and dancing from elders.
Mentoring remains an important part of work done by senior Jaru Pirrjirdi members. Since the launch of the Warra Warra Kanyi Counselling and Mentoring Service (WWK) last year, we have seen 60.5% of clients supported by a Jaru mentor. WWK has allowed Jaru mentoring to move from being a natural expression of leadership within the community into a more supervised, coordinated and methodical approach to dealing with youth ‘at risk’.
The WWK coordinates the Mt Theo Program response to substance abuse, domestic violence and/or family violence, suicidal ideation and general personal difficulties. Important local and cultural factors such as gender, skin name and family group determine which senior Jaru are selected for this important case work. The individuals receive support in the form of mentoring from these Senior Jaru who are in constant contact with them.
Once Jaru members are deemed ‘Senior Jaru’ they are considered to have graduated from the program. From participation in the Jaru Pirrjirdi pathways, the personal capacity, achievements and development are measured to decide who becomes a graduate. There are a total of 50 Jaru Pirrjirdi graduates to date, which shows the strength and leadership qualities of young people growing up in Yuendumu as part of the Jaru Pirrjirdi Program.
This year, 31 Senior Jaru are currently in positions of employment, training or leadership within the community, both at Mt Theo Program and other organizations.
More importantly to this, Senior Jaru Pirrjirdi are taking on a more active leadership role within Yuendumu community as strong, young adults who are respected by the youth, elders and other agencies as an important voice. We are seeing more Jaru members on local boards and committees, in stronger positions of power to help change and mould the future for themselves and their families.
Future pathways serves to build local capacity and achieve true community development. Moreover, it creates space within the program for young adults to keep entering and moving through the elements of the program.
Key Partnerships created to assist Jaru build meaningful futures:
- Warlpiri Rangers: Predominantly graduated Jaru members employed as full-time staff, with 2 x Jaru Ranger Trainees.
- Yuendumu Swimming Pool: Managed by Mt Theo Program. Fully trained lifeguards to be supplied solely from the Jaru membership. 18 fully trained lifeguards.
- Yuendumu Diesel Mechanic Workshop: Managed by Mt Theo Program. Opportunity for 4 Jaru apprenticeships.
The Jaru Pirrjirdi Program is supported by the Department of Health and Ageing – Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health; Drug Strategy Branch; STEPS Disability Qld Inc; Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs; Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations; Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport (NRETAS).