A GROUP of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will share stories about what makes them proud at a creative camp being held near Broome during NAIDOC Week, 7-11 July.
The Welcome to My Country camp will bring together 18 young people from Barcaldine, Daly River and the West Kimberley to showcase their cultural and community strengths.
Co-chair of Red Cross Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Team Michael White said the camp is about building on strengths, developing leadership skills and increasing community engagement among the group of 14 to 16 year olds.
“While young people in these remote areas experience entrenched disadvantage, they also have available a rich source of cultural knowledge and pride through local Elders, Traditional Owners and strong community connections.”
Mr White says the recently published ‘Elders’ report into preventing Indigenous self-harm & youth suicide’ shows the importance of promoting community led solutions and giving young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a voice.
The report, compiled out of concern for a growing rate of youth suicide, highlights that culture and connection to country are vital foundations for the social and emotional wellbeing of young people.
“That is the main aim of the camp,” Mr White says. “It will give young people from remote areas the opportunity to showcase their country and be proud of who they are and where they come from and support their social and emotional wellbeing in a comfortable environment.
“Red Cross acknowledges the value young people bring to their communities and to our organisation.
“Lajia Brown-Tamwoy is the perfect example. At just 21-years old, she’s the youngest member of our new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Team which provides strategic thinking and leadership to Red Cross work as partners with First Nations peoples.”
Three years ago Lajia was working at a fast food chain and didn’t know what she wanted to do. Now she’s the HR Coordinator in South Australia and member of the Leadership Team.
“I feel really privileged and am taking this as an opportunity for my personal and professional development. I’m more confident and know that I can bring a lot to the table through my work in human resources and my experiences as a young person,” Lajia says.
“Early this year I did a human rights course and I have aspirations to work more in the human rights field and become an advocate for my people.”
Leadership Team Co-Chair Rachel Schmerl says our vision is to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples share a prosperous, safe and healthy future with all other Australians.
“This can be achieved through diverse and dynamic partnerships with First Nations peoples and employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff like Lajia who know and understand their communities.
“NAIDOC Week is a time to honour our more than 140 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff working with their communities to drive and lead their own solutions,” Ms Schmerl said.
“Red Cross acknowledges the strength, wisdom and ability present in every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and is committed to working to those strengths to bring about positive change.”
Ms Schmerl says that starts with investing in our young people, which is why we’re excited to be holding the Welcome to my Country camp during NAIDOC Week and to hear what makes our young people proud and the dreams for their future.
Source: Red Cross Australia