Loss of culture is not just detrimental to individuals — its impact can be felt for generations.
As young Indigenous Australians living in Karratha, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, it’s something Daniel Farmer and Adrianna Irvine are all too aware of.
“Last year in our community (of Roebourne) we had seven suicides before Christmas, and it’s not OK,” Mr Farmer said.
He said the tragedies were ultimately the catalyst for the idea to form the Kuruma Marthudunera Aboriginal Corporation’s Youth Council — or KMAC Youth Council for short.
Mr Farmer said the vision for the project is to get more young people involved with culture and to promote social and emotional wellbeing and education in their communities.
“We’re trying to get people through school, wanting them to make sure they can speak up and also have that connection to country,” he said.
Adrianna Irvine knows the importance of culture and connection to country.
“My mum is a part of the stolen generation,” she said.
Ms Irvine said she was fortunate to return to her ancestors’ land in Roebourne, near the Robe River, where family, country and culture gave her the strength to overcome adversity.
“I’m a survivor of domestic violence,” she said.
Ms Irvine said she wanted to be part of the KMAC Youth Council to contribute to her community and give her child a future with a strong connection to culture and a sense of belonging.
KMAC Board Chairman Sara Slattery said she was inspired by the work of the Council.
“The KMAC Youth Council are making a real impact and leading by example for other young people, local aboriginal groups and our local shire,” Ms Slattery said.
She said education and employment were vital to shaping young people’s futures.
“They bring me comfort when I try to imagine what the future holds for the Kuruma and Marthudunera People.”
Ms Irvine said there were now eight members on the KMAC Youth Council working on three focus areas aimed at uniting the community and embracing culture.
The KMAC Youth Council has three main goals.
The first is to encourage youth to become leaders in their communities by speaking up and having a voice through the council.
The second is to foster a connection to culture and community through education about country, language and traditional stories.
“We have plans to develop language resources and want to arrange language classes from our elders to keep our language alive,” Mr Farmer said.
He said the Youth Council had also planned trips onto country for mock surveys with the KMAC heritage team to help them learn and understand significant artefacts, cultural areas and bush medicines.
The third goal of the Youth Council is to focus on educational programs aimed at encouraging young people to stay in school and apply for high school and tertiary scholarships.
“We’re also developing life skills programs with the KMAC service staff to help with youth banking, resume writing, money management and understanding pay slips,” Mr Farmer said.
The youth council already has eight members between the ages of 18 and 24 in the Kuruma and Marthudunera region, but Mr Farmer said the project could stretch far beyond the state’s north-west.
“Our vision is to take our model of what the youth council is to other communities and corporations and empower them to do the same thing but with their own language and culture,” he said.
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