ALMOST 70 of Toowoomba’s Aboriginal youth look forward to Friday nights thanks to the Whaddup Youth Program.
Activities in the program, run by the diocese’s Community Justice Group (CJG), include team building, physical fitness, basketball and indoor cricket and soccer.
Whaddup Youth Program organizer Stacey McCarthy said the program works with key stakeholders in the community to reduce the number of indigenous youth coming into contact with the criminal justice system.
“The program been a phenomenal success in the three years it’s been running,” she said.
” As well as the regulars, we estimated in 2006 about 1,931 kids came through the doors to be involved in some activity or other.”
The program runs every Friday night at St Joseph’s College.
Stacey said the CJG, which is auspiced by Centacare, has two other working parties in addition to youth engagement. These are the sentencing group and youth leadership.
The CJG also runs a number of other activities.
“These include the Croc Fest at Moree,” Stacey said.
“This activity promotes self esteem, leadership and culture for young people.”
The sentencing group works with Toowoomba Magistrates Court, linking young offenders with local indigenous elders. Elders spend time with the youth involved and offer advice, guidance and support.
The youth leadership group runs a number of activities such as annual leadership camps.
“Young people have contact with positive Indigenous role models and community members and are challenged to achieve various personal goals,” Stacey said.
Although the CJG is funded by Queensland Department of Attorney-General, Stacey said the key to its success is a number of active volunteers and stake holders who have shown tremendous and consistent support for four years.
The majority of these volunteers are members of the local Indigenous community.
The CJG has also been able to provide community support for groups such as the Community Capacity Building Group and activities such as NAIDOC week.
Any Aboriginal young people wishing to join the Whaddup Program can contact Stacey at Centrecare on 4632 3604.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.