NASCA Students Return from TAFSIA Games (Jakarta)
In early October, an Australian delegation led by Aboriginal young people from Western Sydney returned from an international cultural...
The National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy’s ongoing Northern Territory program has expanded due to community demand over the past 18 months and with more demand from other schools and communities the program is likely to continue to grow. NASCA will have successfully recruited close to 100 skilled Indigenous and non-Indigenous volunteers by the end of 2016 to work across six culturally vibrant community schools outside of Alice Springs.
As past participants would be aware, volunteers are specifically recruited from a wide range of backgrounds and the selection process is reliant on the applicants having an already positive attitude towards Aboriginal people and communities, a willingness to learn and a passion for Aboriginal cultures. In addition to this each volunteer must complete an in-depth cultural awareness session from Western Arrente and Alyawarre woman Deanella Mack who facilitates this as part of her business based in Alice Springs. Deanella has been a great advocate for NASCA’s work and we are very fortunate to have someone with her knowledge and storytelling abilities assisting us with how we work in these remote communities.
It happens too often that some organisations try to come in and change things very quickly and they miss the fact that it’s important to take time to engage the community. Deanella Mack, Cultural Connections
NASCA’s effectiveness can be measured by an increase in school performance and attendance and a broader understanding of post-school opportunities. However it is through long-term community relationship building and the belief in the inherent cultural strength of these communities that informs NASCA’s approach long-term and has lead to real results in and out of the classroom.
Deanella notes that historically “It happens too often that some organisations try to come in and change things very quickly and they miss the fact that it’s important to take time to engage the community.” Deanella also talks about the symptoms of “colonialism, invasion, settlement” with regards to Aboriginal communities and sometimes information comes from non-reliable sources and therefore “some people often have very strong opinions about something they have very little or no knowledge about”. She says she has a “non-aggressive approach to cultural awareness training” which has seen her create a sustainable business that uses a number of different methods to cater for organisations, institutions and businesses to better engage with Central Australian Aboriginal communities. NASCA is proud to see that every person who has undertaken Deanella’s training through NASCA has labelled it as “Excellent” and a highly necessary step towards becoming more culturally competent when working in community.
Having gender-specific approaches to engage the young people is something that has been noted by community members and students as having an effect on student’s school commitment through NASCA’s week-long visits. Also tailoring health-specific exercises with community and student input has been noted by the schools and students as having long-term effects on how young people see things such as nutrition and hydration. Sport is also obviously a major tool used by NASCA to encourage teamwork, cohesion, pride and resilience. “The kids love doing different activities and learning new sports with NASCA” says Laramba’s sport and recreation officer and football captain Taylor.
AFL is a sport that is universally revered in these communities by all genders and NASCA has used their relationship with clubs like the Sydney Swans as a means of furthering the resources and reach of NASCA’s program. The Central Australian AFL season runs almost all year and only stops around Christmas time for vitally important Men’s Business.
Help young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders stay strong in their culture and identity.