In Yuendumu, VOICE supports the successful youth program, Jaru Pirrjirdi (Strong Voices), which is run by Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (Mt Theo Program).
In remote Indigenous communities such as Yuendumu there are limited resources and opportunities available for young people to be engaged in a meaningful way. Implementing youth programs has proven to be a successful way of supporting young people to improve their social and educational skills, leading to employment opportunities and further education.
There is evidence to suggest that by providing opportunities to develop leadership skills, and participate in sport and recreation activities, young people are less likely to become involved in destructive behavior such as petrol sniffing, drinking, self-harm, drugs, and smoking, all of which have long term health and social complications.
Jaru Pirrjirdi offers a number of programs for young people including leadership development, skills training, careers development, education, and sport and recreation. All of the Mt Theo programs are run with the support of the Elders of the community, who developed and initiated the program.
The aim of Mt Theo’s work is to keep youth engaged, interested and challenged by activities outside of school hours. Volunteers work with the youth workers (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) to run daily activities for young people. It is important for volunteers to be flexible and adaptable to whatever is being run in the community at the time and to support the staff where ever is needed.
Some of the activities that volunteers are often involved in include:
- Sports competitions (basketball, softball, AFL etc)
- Bush trips and camping
- Pool supervision and life-guarding
- Discos and dance workshops
- Art & craft activities
Transport to the community:
Yuendumu is located 290km North West from Alice Springs along the Tanami Highway, which branches off the Stuart Highway 25 km North of Alice Springs.
Volunteers fly to Alice Springs and usually stay in a youth hostel overnight. They are then picked up by a Mt Theo youth worker and driven out to Yuendumu which takes about 3 or 4 hours.
Accommodation in the community:
The accommodation in Yuendumu is called ‘the Barn’. It is a comfortable, safe, self-contained demountable building (often called a ‘Donga’ in remote communities). There is space for volunteers to sit outside.
“Everything has been amazing and I loved working as part of the Mt Theo Program. Work was often challenging but always enjoyable. I enjoyed the autonomy of the program in Lajamanu and the experiences it opened up for the kids, and myself. We had a lot of fun and I formed some great relationships.”
WYDAC Mt Theo Volunteer, 2011
“Throughout my first week I witnessed several things that really gave me perspective as to the differences between cultures. I enhanced my awareness and understanding of how things operate in Yuendumu, especially with the kids. My first disco in Yuendumu was an experience I would never forget!! Can these kids dance or what! It was so good to see them all engaged and being positive with one another.
I also learnt that the Indigenous culture embeds a positive outlook in a happy and competitive sense. The kids were smiling and looked forward to playing every night, with such great athleticism and good sportsmanship.”
WYDAC Mt Theo Volunteer, 2013.