The Outreach Program provides diversionary and youth development activities to the Warlpiri communities of Willowra, Nyirrpi and Lajamanu. At the heart of this Program is the WETT Youth & Media Project.
Funded since 2007 by the Kurra Aboriginal Corporation, the model focuses initially on diversionary activities for young people; project based media workshops focus on process, developing interesting youth & media opportunities for young people as a diversion from at-risk behavior; higher end media training and activities focus on employment options and media products for use in the communities and the wider community.
It is only through the WETT Youth & Media Project that the Outreach Program has become sustainable and achieved substantial outcomes. Over the year the Project enabled a total of 842 media hours with 1524 participants across the three communities and several inspiring and fun films have been uploaded to www.wettmedia.org.au. Its success has led to further funding from government donors.
The Willowra Youth Program has established itself not only as a strong diversionary program but also a stable youth development program. There is a constant range of youth diversionary activities available to youth in Willowra encompassing sport, art, disco, media, music and excursions.
During this 12-month period, an average of 58.5 hours per week of activities attracted an average of 326.9 participants. Incite Youth Arts dance and hip-hop music, and graffiti art workshops ran over several weeks during this year and were extremely popular.
The training rooms have been used on a daily basis, providing a hub for literacy, numeracy, music and media training, as well as recreational activities such as pottery, for the older young people. In a short time it has proved an effective space for 15-25 year olds with an emphasis on music and media training. One room has been dedicated a video edit suite, another stores the high-end music recording equipment and the other largest room housing three computers and a small area with bean bags and magazines. Activities have included music recording with the Lander River Band, photography and printing workshops, video editing and general computer use.
During this year, a large multi-purpose room was completed as an extension of the youth centre. This space also houses the Willowra family painting project that was completed in December 2009. Willowra elders officially opened the ‘gallery’ on Christmas Eve. Fourteen family groups are represented, with an elder from each family, their children and grandchildren, painting their ‘dreaming’. The paintings are on permanent display in the Youth Centre’s Blue Room and are identified by a small display card in English and Warlpiri.
A highlight was ‘Wirliyajarrayi Festival’, the major arts and cultural project in Willowra held on Saturday October 17. Many organisations were involved to make this a spectacular event. People from other communities came to participate and to watch. Activities were held throughout the day: clay workshop, egg and spoon races, Pinyada and lollie scramble, lighting of the pottery kiln, dancing preparations, and a magic show. In the months leading to the event the youth watched elders painting Yawalyu and Pulapa banners and participated in dancing practice (men and boys). The Lander River Band was the feature band at the Festival. Anna Cadden (Media Trainer) and the youth workers mentored and assisted two of the media -trained girls to film the Festival, and post-production. Several of the Mt Theo team assisted and supported the Willowra youth workers. The community young and old prepared for the festival by painting traditional paintings and making wooden artifacts such as coolamons, clapping Sticks and boomerangs. Through this process the youth were immersed in Warlpiri artistic cultural traditions.
Mt Theo youth workers took part responsibility for the childcare, as a way of accessing and supporting young mothers in the community and tutoring a number of young mothers who are studying for their Cert 111 in Childcare.
As part of the senior class school curriculum, we mentored a video production course, which saw a 3-minute movie produced completely by the students. They drew up storyboards, developed concepts, learnt how to use the camera and edited the movie in iMovie. A version was uploaded to the community website by the students. The class were engaged, extremely enthusiastic and showed great skill in the project.
The music-recording studio has been a valuable asset to the youth program. The studio is used on a daily/weekly basis. The music studio has generated very strong participation by both young men and women. As part of the youth development strategy, the studio will not only equip the Lander River Band and others with the resources to produce and record their music, but provides a hub for vocational training in music engineering, recording, and performance.
The Nyirrpi Youth Program has had a very successful 12 months with stable youth workers and a Youth Committee directing strategy and activities. A wide range of activities were available for 5 days every week, with an additional focus on cultural excursions and computers, as instructed by the community.
During this 12-month period, an average of 45 hours per week of activities attracted an average of 279.3 participants. Incite Youth Arts dance and hip-hop music, and graffiti art workshops ran over several weeks during this year and were extremely popular.
Weekly cultural excursions were a particular highlight and focus of the program during this period. This included elders of the community accompanying Nyirrpi youth to show and teach about important sites, searching for bush tucker and animals. A new partnership with Indigo Foundation will ensure one extended camp each year to build on the strong cultural focus of the community elders.
Nyirrpi women also joined Yuendumu women for the Karnte Dance Camp during which many younger women were taught dreamtime stories and dancing. Nyirrpi youth also participated in a CLC Ranger trip in June to monitor flora and fauna in the region.
GMAAAC (Granites Mines Affected Area Aboriginal Corporation) provided $68,200 for a music & new media studio which involved building soundproofed rooms within the existing Nyirrpi Recreational Hall. This enabled the facilitation of a broad range of media and training programs. The rooms house equipment to be used for video production, music recording, podcasting and new media. It enables the community to produce works of a professional-level standard. The space is also used as a place for the bands to rehearse.
CAYLUS (Central Australian Youth Link-up Services) funded two lockable rooms, which are built at the front of the hall, and a storage room inside. One room is used as a music & computer room, the other is the program office.
The Youth Committee meets regularly and is actively involved in service delivery. All of this has created clear community expectations regarding the program and positive feedback from community and funding bodies.
PAW Media (Warlpiri Media) ran a number of media training workshops involving animation, filming, editing and music and these were well patronized by Nyirrpi youth. Two excellent plasticine animation movies were produced from the June animation workshops. It is hoped that this initial media training experience can generate greater day to day involvement of media production such as photography and filming alongside normal youth activity. Similarly this should provide greater opportunities for youth development work in the Nyirrpi program.
The Lajamanu program has had an outstanding first year, providing a comprehensive range of diversion and development activities to Lajamanu youth. Two new workers have established a dynamic and positive development program that has been very well received by the community.
After much groundwork and supervision a strong pool of local Jaru/trainees is being well utilized and will continue to grow until well into the future. Furthermore, the Youth Committee was established involving local members, and more broadly, an advisory group involving the Police, School and Clinic.
Incite Youth Arts dance and hip-hop music, and graffiti art workshops ran over several weeks during this year and were extremely popular.
During this 12-month period, an average of 55.5 hours per week of activities attracted an average of 733.3 participants.
Other than traditional sporting and disco activities, excursions, computers and media activities emerged as significant program elements. Excursions are highly valued by the youth and the community for their high cultural value. Elders were present on these trips to teach Lajamanu youth about dreaming stories, bush tucker, bush medicine and their own history.
A very popular media room has been established which enables video editing post bush trips, disco and sporting activity in addition to recording music.
Media is an essential part of the diversionary youth program in Lajamanu, youth workers engage in basic media activities at a daily/weekly level. This may involve going on a bush excursion and taking the camera along, or filming football matches or a disco. This enables a wide range of youth to engage at an introductory and fun level with the media project. This also presents as a ‘talent spotting’ exercise for the youth workers to pass on to PAW Media and trainers information about who may be especially interested or capable for more formal training.
A number of promising cultural projects have been established during this period such as a t-shirt screen-printing representing skin groups and a collaboration with Warnayaka Art Gallery on painting and dancing. There has been extensive discussion about a more comprehensive long-term project ‘Yirtaki Mani’ which would be a tracking project aimed at cultural literacy, designed by Mt Theo Lajamanu cultural mentor Steve Patrick.
In addition to these core activities important qualititative additions were made to many activities. For example hanging out in the youth space has widened to include literacy activity such as computers and reading newspapers, magazines, crossword puzzles, find-a-word games, which have been provided. Disco became a larger, more vibrant and multi-faceted during this period. In addition to the usual DJing of music and dancing a booming kitchen service was established which was staffed by Lajamanu youth. Moreover each disco was filmed by Jaru workers and concurrently played on a large screen with projector for all attendees to see.
The Outreach Program is funded by Kurra Aboriginal Corporation(WETT – Warlpiri Education Training Trust); Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs – Youth in Communities; NT Department of Health & Families; Granites Mines Affected Area Aboriginal Corporation (GMAAAC); Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS).