Case study

T@Y (Thursdays @ the Y) LDAT

Indigenous youth dancing
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Dates of the project:: January 2019 – December 2019

Target audience:: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 12 to 17 years

Activity aim:: The T@Y LDAT aims to reduce the use of alcohol, cannabis and other drugs among 12-17 year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Bundaberg.

Indigenous youth busting poses

Issue being targeted

The project seeks to increase protective factors and reduce risk factors for alcohol and other drug use by engaging young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through weekly sport, art and healthy cooking sessions.

These sessions seek to:

  • divert and prevent alcohol and other drug use
  • provide opportunities for positive social interactions
  • increase resilience and leadership skills.

The project further aims to mitigate some of the intergenerational trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - a key risk factor for alcohol and other drug use - by increasing the young people’s cultural connections and knowledge of their heritage.

Drivers for the activity 

The activity was designed to address some issues that were identified in the target group. Some young people were recognised as being estranged from their cultural heritage, living separate from immediate family (with distant relatives or in foster care) and having lower levels of self-confidence, cultural pride and life skills. Boredom and limited social support systems – such as alienated family units, disengagement from school settings, and low school attendance – was contributing to issues with some young people vandalising a local shopping centre on a Thursday night.

Indigenous youth dancing

Key processes used

Across the 40 weeks of school terms, the T@Y LDAT held a weekly 2.5 hour program at the YMCA on Thursday afternoons. These included sport, art and healthy cooking sessions. Additionally, there were four invitations for the T@Y cohort to give cultural performances at community events.

Description of activity

T@Y aimed through weekly T@Y activities with 10 to 15 at-risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people over a 12-month period to:

  1. Increase their sense of social connectedness and cultural belonging.
  2. Develop their leadership skills, build self confidence, enhance their ability to make informed decisions and build competence in daily life skills.
  3. Provide opportunities to demonstrate learned leadership skills through community events (cultural performances and Welcome to Country) in order to increase their sense of belonging in the wider community, as well as the T@Y group, and to increase their sense of cultural pride and self-esteem.

Impacts

This was the second year of T@Y being delivered through the LDAT program, and participation has grown from 7 to 15 active participants. Young people in the community refer to T@Y as a safe space to engage with other young people and volunteers.

Although the LDAT had difficulty with T@Y participants completing follow-up surveys, of the five that completed the survey each reported that they felt an:

  • increase in social skills
  • increase in teamwork skills
  • increase in life skills (cooking)
  • increase in leadership skills.

The staff and volunteers also captured anecdotal feedback which affirmed that the majority of participants felt similar improvements.

Strengths in the approach 

The majority of the young people who have attended are young teenagers 11-15 years old, in the transitional stage of their adolescence. The cultural focus of the T@Y program has resonated with this cohort. The program has also had increased involvement from community organisations, including Queensland Police Service, who regularly attend and informally engage and build rapport with the young people.

Christmas photo from Thursdays @ the Y

Lessons learned

The LDAT recognises that the program has helped older participants reach their potential, and this highlights the need for the LDAT to explore other programs to continue keeping this at risk group engaged. For future delivery of the T@Y program, the LDAT has decided to limit the age of participants to between 11 and 15 years.

Reflections from community

When asked if they had any recommendations to improve the program, one participant wrote, “Yes. We could come twice a week.”

“As a serving police officer, it is rewarding to have been asked to be a part of the organisation and team who work with the children… This program benefits the community in so many ways and should be continued or if possible expanded.”

With thanks to

Partners:

  • YMCA Bundaberg
  • Stepping Black Indigenous Corporation Australia
  • Bridges Aligned Health Services
  • Rotaract
  • Headspace
  • Queensland Police Service
Indigenous youth dancing