The GP down south Assertive Outreach Team, along with seven other organisations collaborated to bring together a 4-day cultural camp for 18 young people connecting them to country and culture.
The aim of the camp was to encourage Aboriginal youth to respect the Aboriginal ‘Country’ in which they live and recreate on. The focus was for youth both male and female to understand how critical the connection to the land is to Aboriginal people. To show Aboriginal youth that they are descendants of one of the oldest cultures in the world, and at its heart, is a strong affinity with the land they inhabit. Helping to understand this connection, creates pride in who they are and where they have come from, we are then handing them the responsibility to live and create a better future for themselves.
Respected community leaders Uncle Trevor and Aunty Kerry facilitated the cultural aspects of the camp through Goolamwiin with the Smoking Ceremony, workshops in tool making and bush tucker identification, yarning around the campfire and traditional dancing.
The four days provided opportunities for camp participants to immerse themselves in traditional Aboriginal knowledge, skills, spirituality, and connect to country through language, stories, and song. Social networks were increased, and the young people felt connected to each other by the end of camp. An important component of the camp was young people demonstrating respect in all aspects of life. Camp participants were able to work through differences and take responsibility for their actions. Interactions with WA Police were extremely positive in mending and building relationships. There were breakthroughs in stereotypes and many barriers came down. It was evident that supporting young people to increase their sense of identity, cultural awareness, and connectedness to country and community had positive benefits for their mental health.
Participants loved it so much that they have requested regular catch up sessions at Winjan to continue contact with peers. Many participants advised that they did not know that Winjan existed before the camp. The level of camaraderie, respect and participation blew everyone away. It was obviously something needed, but missing in the community.
The working group will continue to meet to work towards making the camp a regular event. “I am just thankful we had the opportunity to be part of something special, the change in all of the kids was really obvious over the 4 days, the community is very lucky to have a committed group of people that you all are to make sure our children have a chance to grow.” Senior Sergeant Neville Beard, Officer In Charge | Mandurah Police Station
GP down south is an exemplary not-for-profit community organisation. We have been providing health and wellbeing services in the Peel regions and the South West of WA since 1994.