For 16-year-old Angel, it is difficult to connect to land and culture. When she was just three years old, her mother, a woman from Kokartha and Mirning, passed away.
Angel, from the Wirangu mob, said he did not try to understand his Aboriginal identity until recently, when he joined an organization designed to help young Aborigines in Ceduna, South Australia.
“First, I really wasn’t going [connect] I would feel it was difficult, since my mother is not around, but as Tanya and Jacinta have been a great help, it has helped me to return to my land. ”
The organization, called Ngulyie Goo Nguda, which means ‘Our Place’, runs social, emotional and wellness programs that help connect Aboriginal young people to culture, in addition to helping with their mental health.
Angel usually struggles with anxiety, but since joining the Dreaming Arts and mentoring program, she has had no more anxiety attacks.
“It has improved since I took part in the mentoring program, because I have someone to talk to and it puts me in a happy place – it keeps my mind off everything.”
Founders of Ngulyie Goo Nguda, Jacinta Haseldine, a woman from Kokatha, Mirning and Wangkangurru and her partner Charles, a man from Mutti Mutti and Yorta Yorta, saw the need for an organization to help young Aborigines in the Ceduna area.
Haseldine said that indigenous youth may have mental health problems due to issues such as high levels of youth detention and intergenerational trauma from the stolen generation.
Such issues, she said, can make young people go back to drinking, using drugs or withdrawing from school, so that they would like to help young Aborigines through a “unique and different” organization.
“I felt the need, even when I was working for the Department of Education, I really saw the need for more social, emotional and welfare programs. Only in November last year, we decided to actually register the company, ”said Haseldine.
As a new organization, Ngulyie Goo Nguda faced some challenges with the current restrictions due to the coronavirus. His cultural camp, planned for July, in collaboration with the Aboriginal Council on Drugs and Alcohol (SA), has been canceled.
Dreaming Arts, a creative workshop and Living Waters, a fishing workshop cannot go head-to-head. However, this did not prevent Ngulyie Goo Nguda’s youth from taking advantage of the skills they have already learned from the programs.
Haseldine said two boys are still fishing, while Angel continues his newly acquired skills, painting Aboriginal art at home.
“They gave me a rough idea of that [the basics] because I’m new to this. I have done some canvas painting at home. ”
“It helps me to express my feelings. I was not educated on the Aboriginal side of things, so it helps me get back to my homeland, ”she said.
The individual guidance program can continue via phone calls. It is helping young people in a time of anxiety, where the crowd is particularly concerned about the Elders, as confirmed in a survey that Haseldine conducted recently.
“I think that with the Aboriginal communities (through feedback) our young people really care about our elders. They are taking responsibility and, in fact, they are isolating themselves. “
“Aboriginal people, we have several complex social issues going on at the same time. So, it’s just about supporting these young people, ”she said.
Having a mentor encouraged Angel to open up to others and for that, she is grateful.
“I feel happy that they involved me in this, otherwise, I don’t know where I would be. Since I’m not an open person, I like to keepp for me, but as they got me involved in this, I became an open person, ”she said.
Meanwhile, while awaiting the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the founders have been working with Backpacks 4 SA Kids, which provides needs for children in care outside the home.
Haseldine and her partner are also debating more ideas in hopes of securing funding to ensure they can continue to help young Aborigines in the Ceduna area.
“What we are looking for is the financing of the indigenous advance strategy; it would be great to be able to secure some funding to make these programs more permanent and secure. At the moment, any small donation should be appreciated for any donation, but in the long run, it would be good to secure government funding. “
“I would really like to run some more dream programs, but now we have to think outside the box and I am going to make some packages to send home with the children.”