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Byron Shire
June 18, 2021

Indigenous youth take to the water in Tweed

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‘Giving Youth a Story’ is a pilot program based in Tweed that has engaged local Indigenous youth to develop their boat skills whilst storytelling with elders along the Tweed River.

It is a collaborative journey that has brought together a range of groups to support the pilot project to give ‘Tweed Indigenous Youth a pathway to create their own story’. The pilot project brought ten young people from the age of 16 together to provide practical pathways into the maritime industry.

Tweed Escapes along with Tribal Warrior, Banaam, Whose Your Mob and Altum Training-launched the ‘Giving Youth a Story’ project for at risk Indigenous youth on country.

‘Giving Youth a Story’ is aimed at working with local Indigenous youth on country.

‘These were youth who are excluded from mainstream education for a range of reasons,’ said Michael Simmons from Tweed Escapes who were instrumental in making the pilot project happen.

Participants learned a range of skills during the project.

‘Their [the students] engagement really changed over the course of the 12 weeks of the program. You could just see at the beginning that the youth had come in and saw this as just another thing to satisfy a set of requirements. But then you could see how that changed and they began to believe “we can do this”. You could see them picking up on the opportunities.’

The pilot project was developed in consultation with the Tweed Byron Aboriginal Land Council and Tweed Aboriginal Coop and students were given the opportunity to work in the maritime industry and participate in cultural training workshops and mentor programs. It was funded through The Primary Health Network and the Family Centre and included the opportunity to attain a General Purpose Hand ticket to work on commercial vessels. New Horizons and Southern Cross Distance Education provided the students, teachers and facilitators. Local operator Tweed Escapes supplied the vessels, trainers and equipment for this unique pilot program that engages Indigenous Youth.

A range of skills including hospitality were developed during the project.

‘Working with local Indigenous youth to on a Certificate 1 as a General Purpose Hand (Deckhand) on commercial vessels-provides pathways to employment, increased wellbeing and connections to their community and culture,’ said Mr Simmons.

Program Founder Russell Logan from Whose Your Mob said ‘Knowing who your mob is builds a solid platform to face life’s challenges, connecting people to their place. The program has had a 100 per cent retention rate.’

‘There was a lot of cultural mentoring and cultural yarning,’ said Mr Simmons.

‘The project gives youth a pathway into the marine industry. That’s not just throwing ropes it could be hospitality, eco-tours etc, we’re able to introduce them to a number of opportunities within the industry.’

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