Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Mentoring comprises perhaps the most important and critical work done by Jaru members. It has grown from a natural expression of leadership in the community into a methodical and coordinated approach. While the WWK team now coordinates the WYDAC response to substance abuse, domestic and/or family violence, suicidal ideation and general personal difficulties, mentoring from senior Jaru Pirrjirdi members remains an essential element of this casework. Jaru mentors are selected from the Senior Jaru group according to important local and cultural factors such as gender, family group and skin name. This ensures the greater success of any casework and mentoring and more importantly that the individual at risk is in constant contact with individuals who can support them.

Through their establishment of meaningful and active lives, Jaru Pirrjirdi members act as role models to the youth of Yuendumu every day. Jaru Pirrjirdi members who act as youth workers are in constant contact with the youth of Yuendumu. As well as providing activities this role involves conflict resolution, family negotiation and behaviour direction on a daily level. This constant contact also enables Jaru workers to identify youth who may be seriously at risk for issues such as substance abuse.

This mentoring role has become more formalised for more senior members of Jaru Pirrjirdi, who begin to support Warra-Warra Kanyi clients as trainee mentors. These trainee Jaru Pirrjirdi mentors regularly assist Warra-Warra Kanyi staff in the identification and support of at risk individuals within Yuendumu. This is because of their strength and skills, community knowledge, ability to work as peers and very importantly their own past histories with issues such as substance abuse. Within the Jaru mob more than half have past experience in substance abuse, primarily with petrol sniffing. There are no current sniffers amongst this group, and this past experience enables them to talk as equals and act as role models for their peers. Support that they provide to their peers may take many different forms such as discussions and monitoring, facilitation of family, informal or formal intervention, involvement in bush trips, organisation of practical support.

Jaru Pirrjirdi Trainee Mentors illustrate the link between Jaru Pirrjirdi and Warra-Warra Kanyi. Our trainee mentors are young Warlpiri people who have been strengthened and supported through their participation in Jaru Pirrjirdi, and through this involvement have demonstrated a capacity and interest in helping other young people. They are then supported and developed by the Warra-Warra Kanyi team to enable them to do this work, with opportunities to develop skills and even participate in formal training as an ultimate goal. It is hoped that some may eventually ‘graduate’ to become senior mentors at the level of the Warra-Warra Kanyi Male Mentor. Throughout the process of developing mentors, the Warra-Warra Kanyi team prioritises the professional support and wellbeing of trainee Jaru Pirrjirdi mentors. By doing so, Warra-Warra Kanyi aims to continue strengthening and developing the capacity of the Warlpiri community at Yuendumu for supporting its young people who are experiencing difficulty.

To contact the WWK Counselling and Mentoring Service or for the latest Program Brief please email counsellor@mttheo.org