New Anglicare-supported Youth Leadership Academy encourages Indigenous youth to 'dream big'

Program connects Indigenous kids to culture, education, and industry

David Law, AFL Hall of Famer Simon Madden, Yorta Yorta Elder Aunty Pam Pedersen, Advising Elder Leanne Brooke, program alumni Tanisha and Danae, Nova Peris OAM and Anglicare Vic CEO Paul McDonald

PHOTO: Supplied

By Chris Shearer

May 22 2018 

Anglicare Victoria has launched a new program to support young Indigenous people’s education, employment and leadership goals. 

Taking its name from the Wurundjeri words for “big dreams”, the Baldau Yiooghen Youth Leadership Academy was launched last Wednesday in Melbourne after a successful pilot. 

The program, which is facilitated by Anglicare Victoria and The Long Walk, and involves Indigenous organisations including Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative and Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative, involves around twenty young people spending twelve days of the year making connections with cultural and industry groups.

Six of those days are in Melbourne, where they spend time with partner organisations including Tennis Australia, Opera Australia, Australian National Academy of Music, Melbourne Victory FC, Essendon FC, Racing Victoria and Federation University.

Participants also spend time in Darwin where they linked with community Elders as part of cultural development. 

Participants then pick an industry partner they’d like to work with, and undertake work experience with the ultimate aim of eventually taking on paid positions. They are also encouraged to form youth advisory committees in their local co-ops, with aims to eventually have them become youth board members for a year. 

Anglicare Community Development Manager David Law said the program is about encouraging students to discover their passions, focus their aspirations and develop themselves as leaders in their communities. 

“We meet people behind the scene, [learn about] their tertiary qualifications, and we hear about their journey in their professional career,” he told TMA. “Basically what we say is we help people discover their passion and build their academic journey from their passion, so it’s very aspirational.”

“So you might like tennis, but you may not end up Rodger Federer. But you may end up the media manager, or court organiser, whatever. We open their minds to the great variety of jobs there.”

Mr Law said besides the industry partners, the key to the program’s success is working hand in hand with Indigenous organisations. 

“It has to be culturally underpinned and we have a very strong focus on Aboriginal culture which leads the program. We want to maintain that if not improve that,” he said.

“We’re very conscious of having both urban Aboriginal people, regional Aboriginal people and remote Aboriginal people coming together. So we love to have the mobs come together and they broaden their networks which is really important.”

Mr Laws said the plan now was to consolidate the program, explaining that the focus was on maintaining the high quality support offered by the program for future participants.

“We have high expectations of the young people and their communities have high expectations as well. But with that high expectation we also have support we offer,” he said.

“We want to continue that, so we can’t get too big because it will lessen the quality of the delivery. So if we can get four kids jobs at Melbourne Victory or Essendon, if we had a hundred kids we could still only get four kids [jobs]. 

“We’ve got to be very conscious about keeping the quality. Consolidate and to be culturally underpinned is paramount to what we really hope to do.”