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Community-run youth rehabilitation programs better than detention, Indigenous elders say

Date posted: 1 November 2016

Aboriginal Elders from Yuendumu, a remote community 290 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (NT), have appealed to those leading the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT to look at their community-run youth program as an alternative to putting kids in detention. Warlpiri leaders told commissioners Mick Gooda and Margaret White the program, formerly known as Mt Theo, had been successfully rehabilitating young people for more than two decades and could be replicated in other communities.

Mt Theo was established in 1994 by a group of Warlpiri Elders in response to the petrol sniffing epidemic that was plaguing their community.

Warlpiri Elder Ned Hargraves recalls that the situation was a challenge. 'It was very, very hard and for us, and for the community, it was so new to us,' he said.

The Elders took their troubled young people to the sacred and remote Warlpiri country on Mt Theo outstation, about 160 kilometres from town, where they taught them to connect with their culture and country.

Mr Hargraves said they taught the young people traditional skills such as hunting and gathering, which helped give them a sense of identity. The program is now called the Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC) and includes youth diversionary activities, counselling and case management.

Source: ABC News

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Last updated: 1 November 2016
 
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