Young girls mentoring and supporting one another.
By Deborah Pearse, Byron Youth Service:
Nalia Dubay is a youth pilot project, run by Byron Youth Service, for eight at risk young indigenous and non-indigenous girls from Mullumbimby High. The project’s long-term goal is to create a positive peer group that will support and mentor other female teenagers confronting difficulties in their lives.
Nalia Dubay is the Aboriginal language (Bundjalung) name for a group of girls
The Indigenous led girls group is developing the capacity to:
- Create a cohesive, positive group who will continue to work with other service
- Create change within their peer groups
- Create links between cultures
- Promote behaviour change with the aim of keeping country clean.
Eight girls were referred by Mullumbimby High as appropriate for this program, four are Indigenous, and four non-Indigenous. It has been a delight to work with them and with Nickolla Clark as co-facilitator. Nickolla is one of the Bunyarra dancers and brings not only many skills in Indigenous arts and crafts but an ease in connecting with the girls. Halfway through the program the girls have made macrame hangers and Indigenous bracelets, had meals together and participated in discussions about the barriers they face.
As part of the program we had a day in Byron, participating in the Dolphin Dreaming program with Delta Kay at Byron Bay Lighthouse, a visit to the Youth Activities Centre and lunch in town. We had a wonderful day with activities, learning about Arakwal history in the local area and how to care for and respect the land. The highlight was being taken up into the Lighthouse and seeing whales, something that wouldn’t be possible for the girls otherwise.
We also had a free Go Sea Kayaking session organised to complete the program, something that would, at the very least, be normally cost prohibitive.
We are very grateful to NRCF for providing partial funds for this valuable program but have realised that the program isn’t anywhere near long enough.
It takes time to build trust and resilience and we are only just getting to really know the girls, the issues they face and the support and/or referral they require to address them. We would also like to have the time for the girls to make enough indigenous bracelets, baskets and macramé hangers to sell at the Byron Flea, a market held at the Youth Activities Centre once a month.
We hope to gain the funds to extend the program and also to have a similar program structure for young males.