Young Mob Rules!
With the support of StarKids, Aboriginal youths are building confidence by exploring their culture
“It was, like, the first time I actually felt Aboriginal,” says Paul, a 12 year old from Tregear in Sydney’s south west. He’s been participating in the Young Mob Leaders Program, a World Vision initiative that StarKids supports. Part of the program involves taking Aboriginal children into the bush to reconnect with their culture and learn leadership skills. The boys learn to craft spears, the girls learn weaving and Aboriginal facilitators teach them about the ways of their ancestors. “You don’t get to come out to the bush and see your culture that much,” says Paul.
“There was a point where I wasn’t even going to finish school”
Young Mob has been a life-changer for Mark Thorne. “There was a point where I wasn’t even going to finish school”. Now he’s studying criminology and social work at university, and aims to help young Aboriginals when he graduates.
While building pride, the program also counters the shame that comes from a lack of cultural identity. “Maybe it’s just from our parents, from their generation, always being ashamed… like back in the day when Aboriginal people weren’t even considered citizens in their own country,’ says Mark. “I was always ashamed before this program, but this program definitely helps you overcome that shame.”
Mark’s sister Natasha is another success story. After being part of the program, she’s had the confidence to pursue her career goals, and has since worked for QantasLink, an Indigenous employment agency and World Vision, where she works now. “Young Mob has done a lot for me. It’s built up my confidence over the years. It’s helped me in the long-run.”