Thursday, May 28, 2015

Willowra Youth Program

The Willowra Youth Program has developed a range of activities, due largely to long term and committed youth workers who are able to run regular activities, with a special focus on bush trips as a way of re-engaging the young people, and the entire community. Jukurrpa Ngurrju (Good Story), the Willowra equivalent of the Jaru Pirrjirdi model is gaining momentum and being recognized as a vital process in strengthening young people.

Some recent highlights include:

• Purlapa Wiri + Yawulyu Wiri – Music, Dance, Art, Food and Culture Festival

* Wirliyajarrayi website –

* CAAMA music and dance workshop

• construction of a training room for older youth

• construction of a large multi-purpose room to the youth centre

• increase in literacy and numeracy activities

• strong interest in media projects

• planning completed and funding secured for a stand-alone music and media studio

The new training rooms and music studio will provide a good space for focusing on training and future pathways, including WETT media training by PAW Media.

Funded by the NT Department of Health and Community Services; the Department of Family and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; Warlpiri Education Training Trust (WETT), CAYLUS, GMAAAC.

Visit the Willowra website – Wirliya-Jarrayi


There are close family ties between Yuendumu and Willowra. the Mt Theo Program initially supported Willowra community by receiving clients at Mt Theo Outstation.

The Mt Theo Program was also asked to manage the Youth Program in Willowra in April 2005. The Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS) had successfully sought funding for a youth worker in 2004, and had been providing all practical support for Alison Gillies to work with the community to develop a Youth Program that met their needs.

After months of consultation, a strong Youth Committee, representative of all the family groups in Willowra and including both elders and young people, was formed to develop and direct the Youth Program of activities. Despite no funding for activities, Willowra community saw remarkable achievements since that time. Of utmost importance was the fact that petrol sniffing had been reduced to rare and isolated incidents. If sniffing did occur, Willowra community employed the same response as Yuendumu. Young people were taken immediately to Mt Theo for cultural rehabilitation and strengthening.

In 2005, Willowra community really turned things around for their young people who came back from Mt Theo strong and healthy.The Community would not tolerate any petrol sniffing.

Willowra is now an integral part of the Mt Theo story. With help from Willowra School, CAYLUS, Yuendumu Council and others, Mt Theo became involved in a vibrant youth program in Willowra, and there have been only rare incidences of petrol sniffing since the beginning of the program.