“To see everyone come together and get involved is quite powerful,” says Eurobodalla Shire Council, Community Development Officer Jordan Nye.
Mr Nye speaks of a Moruya youth program called Walawaani Garindja, words that come from the local indigenous language and mean ‘safe journey to our youth’.
The joint initiative between Council, Far South Coast Police, and Campbell Page launched last August and “has exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Mr Nye says.
The aim is to bridge the gap between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community and with a recent grant from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is going from strength to strength.
Walawaani Garindja is held at the Gundary Oval clubhouse on Campbell Street, Moruya, every Wednesday from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm, and brings together local youth, their parents and Aboriginal community leaders to participate in a range of activities – dot painting, basket weaving, boomerang making, traditional dancing, skateboarding lessons, touch football, and more.
“We’ve got ongoing commitment not just from the kids but also community members coming in weekly to offer their time,” Mr Nye says.
“It’s also the first time Council has had such a big number of Aboriginal people volunteering for a program, and they’re getting as much out of it as the kids.”
The $5,535 in grant funding will be used to buy healthy food each week, equipment to support safe food handling as well as games, sports and art and craft supplies.
“Aboriginal culture plays such an important part of the kids’ development – for our Indigenous youth it’s part of their identity and for our non-Indigenous youth it’s about giving them a chance to understand and feel our culture for what it is,” Mr Nye says.
“Respect is a big part of what we teach in the program as well as talking about how the kids’ actions impact our community as a whole.
“Our vision is that Walawaani Garindja continues as a culturally appropriate, educational and social haven for the community on a Wednesday afternoon.
“All are welcome to attend, it is completely free and no bookings are required.”
Fingers are crossed hoping that the program will attract more funding to help it develop further.