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“Because of Young Mob I feel stronger and proud to be an Aboriginal man.” “Meeting the Elders made me feel welcomed; actually meeting someone in our culture who’s been through so much and can share the story with me and now I can share it with other people.”

These are just some of the responses of young Aboriginal people who participated in an enormously successful program which the EC White Trust, managed by Equity Trustees, has been a part of supporting. Easily meeting its objective, the program has 80% of participants to date reporting “increased cultural and self-identity and increased confidence”.

Mark, a former Young Mob participant who’s now a facilitator, said: “The program gave me the right path and the right attitude towards schooling and towards life… Young Mob helped make me into the man I am today.”

Young Mob is a youth development program for young people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background, run by World Vision in partnership with Australian primary and secondary schools and local Indigenous people. Its overarching goal is “To empower Aboriginal young people to confidently engage with the world and have strong connections within and across their culture and communities.”

Young Mob was established in New South Wales in 2006 and expanded to Victoria in 2016, where it now operates in four schools as well as a youth justice centre. In partnership with the Aboriginal organisation First Hand Solutions, Young Mob also runs cultural camps and cultural exchange trips. The latest figures, from 2018, show that the program has involved almost 400 Indigenous young people so far.

In Youth Mob’s own words, “The idea is to provide a safe space for Indigenous youth to explore their culture, identity and Aboriginality.” Young Mob facilitators are young Aboriginal people, helping participants to build confidence in themselves, develop abilities such as public speaking, and foster a strong sense of pride in and belonging to their cultural heritage. Aboriginal Elders also participate in the program, creating a vital link that allows the older generations to pass on timeless wisdom and traditions to the new.

Given this success, and the importance of Young Mob’s work in the broader context of Reconciliation, demand is growing for Young Mob to not only increase the number of participating schools in Victoria and New South Wales but to begin operating in other states.

Thanks in part to a $15,000 grant from the EC White Trust, World Vision Australia is aiming to expand the Young Mob program in Victoria and is working with local communities and Aboriginal groups to identify and connect with the most appropriate schools to take part.

Megan Freshwater, Trusts and Foundations Manager at World Vision, says that “The support of the EC White Trust enables World Vision Australia to highlight the stakeholder support the project is receiving and provides a platform from which to seek larger and longer-term funding for the program.”

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