1. Prevention and Education form the first elements of the Warra-Warra Kanyi client service. These elements take on a variety of forms such as daytrips out bush with elders and mentors; educational nights involving mentors and experts such as health workers; or regular, informal ‘hanging out’ as a forum for discussing youth issues and responding to requests/needs. This kind of intervention allows the Warra-Warra Kanyi team to respond to current, relevant issues in the lives of young Warlpiri people; by doing so, we are able to equip young Warlpiri people with the life skills they might need for developing their positive futures.
Group-based interventions have emerged as a particularly useful mode for conducting this preventative/educational work, as they allow for trainee and Warra-Warra Kanyi mentors to engage young Warlpiri people in a non-threatening and appropriate way. Warra-Warra Kanyi staff, mentors and participants regularly plan and undertake the production of appropriate, Warlpiri-language resources to support this preventative and educative work in Warlpiri communities and beyond.
2. Early Intervention for at-risk clients is an integral element of the service. Staff aim to identify and resolve issues at an early stage, potentially preventing higher degrees of risk, harm, incarceration and crisis among Warlpiri youth. Given our unique position of closeness with Warlpiri communities, Warra-Warra Kanyi staff are able to access community knowledge and concerns, and facilitate early referrals to a client’s family, or to external agencies such as police or clinic. Warra-Warra Kanyi Early Intervention services are successful in resolving many client issues before they reach a critical stage, thus reducing the burden on police and correctional services, as well as reducing rates of harm experienced by Warlpiri youth.
3. A client whose issues cannot be resolved through early intervention measures will progress to Counselling and Mentoring Support. A typical care plan for a client who is considered to be highly at risk will include daily counselling/mentoring contact with Warra-Warra Kanyi staff and peer mentors. These interactions rarely take place in a conventional therapeutic setting but may occur (according to the client’s wishes) on a short drive in/around the community; during a peer activity; over a cup of tea at a family home; or, most preferably, ‘out bush’ where Warlpiri youth have demonstrated that they are most comfortable to engage in this therapeutic mode. Overnight bush trips, or trips to the Mt Theo Outstation, have proven to be particularly helpful.
This contact allows the client to work through their issues in conversation with their peer mentors, supported by a qualified counsellor. All of these interactions have a strengths-based focus, and aim to effect behavioural change and implement coping strategies in the young person at risk. At all times, the reduction of negative client behaviour is closely linked with the simultaneous development of positive behaviour and pathways, largely through re-engagement with Jaru Pirrjirdi. Further, clients whose issues are critical or recurring may be referred to the Mt Theo Outstation for respite and intensive cultural rehabilitation.
4. Community and family mentors/elders play an important part in this therapeutic contact. These elders have the capacity to re-engage a young Warlpiri person with a sense of their culture and identity. They are able to exert cultural authority and respect, complementing the peer mentorship provided by staff members and trainee mentors. In our experience, re-engaging with this cultural strength is a critical element for Warlpiri youth moving through crisis and difficulty; it is also crucial in the longer-term goal of developing strong, healthy Warlpiri youth who are secure and proud in their Warlpiri identity.
5. In addition to therapeutic contact, there is a significant case management aspect to the work done by Warra-Warra Kanyi (for example, assisting a young person to find work, gain a drivers license or manage their financial affairs). This is highly appropriate for our therapeutic context for two main reasons: a) recent research suggests that this kind of practical support contributes greatly to therapeutic rapport with Indigenous youth, and b) this work is in keeping with our community development context and commitment to structural change for Warlpiri communities.
6. Finally, the goal of all counselling and mentoring work through Warra-Warra Kanyi is re-engagement with the Jaru Pirrjirdi project! Involvement with Jaru Pirrjirdi – be it involvement as a worker in the youth program, participation in bush trips, or engagement with a career pathway – coexists with counselling and mentoring services as a complementary therapeutic service. It’s a structure within which clients can continue to be supported and developed when their need for counselling and mentoring services is no longer critical.
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