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 2017 IWC / Rotary Youth Leadership Camp

INDIGENOUS youth aged 12 to 16 took part in a five-day Youth Leadership Camp held in Bundaberg from June 26-30.

“The issue of leadership among our youth and young adults is a big one in our communities, and lack of connection to cultural heritage can be a factor in substance abuse,” said the head of IWC’s Community Programs Lee Hammond.

IWC delivered the five-day residential camp in partnership with the Rotary Clubs of Bundaberg East and Sunrise. The program was modelled on the RYPEN (Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment) with the involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners and Elders. Both boys and girls were involved.

“IWC has a big focus on the ‘turning point’ years which start around 10, and it is vital that we help our children to develop and form their own values and moral standards,” said Ms Hammond.

“This camp was not aimed at youth who had a clear life map, but youngsters who were at risk of falling out of the mainstream system and would benefit from a structured approach to dealing with underpinning causes of disengagement and the social issues that can result from that.”

The IWC’s Community Programs include an Indigenous Alcohol & Other Drugs (AOD) counsellor and social worker, and Youth Support Workers, all of whom were actively involved in the delivery of the workshop. IWC’s Dietitian also was part of the education sessions.

The camp was held at a rural property owned by IWC which sits just outside Bundaberg, with 30ha of farmland along with accommodation, a commercial kitchen and workshops.

“This premises, with its land and accommodation, was ideal for this camp and also offered easy access to local beaches and creeks. During this camp, we took the opportunity to deliver education and training in traditional Indigenous skills including fishing, crabbing and other bush tucker gathering,” said Ms Hammond.

“Creative workshops, sports, cultural activities including dancing and music, as well as workshops on key topics including Alcohol & Other Drugs, personal goals, peer and family relationships, sexual health, nutrition and hygiene.

“At the heart of it all was team building, and there was a campfire yarnin’ session held each evening. Traditional Owners and Elders were involved in those sessions, as well as providing guidance and support around cultural activities.”

It follows another recent successful partnership aimed at Indigenous youth in the “turning point” years that was delivered with The Waves sporting club in Bundaberg. Working with IWC, the club’s coaches provided a Skills Development Program for more than 40 boys and girls aged 10-15, with training provided over a five-week period. The sessions included fitness, emotional wellbeing, peer and family relationships, Alcohol & Drugs, nutrition and diet, and achieving personal goals.

“That was an excellent pathway program for some of the participants in the Leadership Camp, and the feedback around both the Skills Development and Camp events has been outstanding.


Through this intensive one-on-one and group approach - with a focus on building the skills, capabilities and self-esteem of our youth – we are making real headway.”

The outcomes and learnings from the youth involved in both the Camp and the Skills Development sessions will feed into a forum for Indigenous youth to be held by IWC later this year.

“This is all part of the consultation at grassroots community level around what the solutions are to so many personal and social issues being faced by our youth today,” said Ms Hammond.


“We are very much aware of the issues around suicide in our communities, and government statistics show that the suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is 2.6 times the rate for non-Indigenous peoples, and that Indigenous peoples take their lives at a younger age.”