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...
I’ve lived in Redfern for nearly two years now, but had only ever been by the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) in passing. I knew it had a gym, but I didn’t know much more about the organisations working within.
Over the last few years I had become increasingly aware of the significant inequality Indigenous Australians are fighting to overcome and was determined to support an Aboriginal organisation. In April I applied for the Aurora Internship Program’s winter internship round. Following a successful interview process I was placed at the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) in Redfern (housed on the grounds of NCIE), an organisation I had little knowledge of prior to starting.
NASCA runs educational and cultural programs with Indigenous young people and communities in New South Wales and in the remote Northern Territory. Whilst a small organisation they work with over 1000 young people each year.
I was immediately attracted to the unique qualities at the core of NASCA. History has proven time and time again that the attempts of largely non-Indigenous policymakers to address Indigenous inequality without proper consultation are largely ineffective.
The fact that NASCA is 100% Indigenous governed told me from the outset that the work NASCA is doing would be both important and effective. Even more significantly, NASCA has no singular model for “this is how you help improve outcomes for Indigenous kids” but instead acknowledges that every community is different and responds to those different needs accordingly.
Because acknowledgement of cultural and community differences is at the core of NASCA’s programs, its educational programs have had proven result, leading to very real school attendance improvement, and well as health and academic outcomes. More anecdotally, but just as importantly, kids love the programs and it helps them feel pride in their cultural identity.
From my first day in the NASCA office the passion of the staff was evident. They are a dedicated team who believe in what they do and the real results it can have on the Indigenous young people they work with. As a small organisation, with limited resources, everyone steps up where needed. Because of this, whilst I was officially part of the Communications and Development team, the nature of my work was pretty varied.
This has been a period of personal and professional development. I have learned to manage my multiple commitments and endeavour to give my all to everything I undertake. Professionally I have developed skills using new software’s, managing projects, planning events, as well as using fundraising tools and how to create good social media content. As a non-Indigenous person it was also a valuable opportunity to broaden my personal understand and connection to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
NAIDOC week was a special time to be at NASCA. During this week I got to participate in two events at Hyde Park and at the NCIE. At the event, NASCA programs officers ran Traditional Indigenous Games (TIGS). It was heartening to see how great they were with kids whilst also showcasing the importance of health and fitness. I played a big part in running Girls Club events at NAIDOC, craft based activities that we use in our Northern Territory programs to give women and girls a supportive and relaxed environment to hang out and connect. This proved popular with both kids and adults alike. We crafted flags, created bracelets in the colours of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags, and painted nails in the proud colours of red, yellow and black. This week was a great opportunity to see what it’s all really about and for who NASCA’s hard work is dedicated. It was a pleasure to see so many children and their families celebrating their culture and proudly wearing Indigenous colours with the knowledge that their culture is vibrant, alive and worth celebrating.
During my time at NASCA I also had the opportunity to be involved in the planning of the upcoming Trivia Night fundraiser that will be happening on the 15th of September. It is a great opportunity to come together as a community with our supporters, raise funds that allow NASCA to deliver these vital programs, show our appreciation and have fun. I’ve helped to source prizes from our generous donors, as well as write questions for the quiz on the night. It’s shaping up to be a really fun evening and I know I’ll be coming back for it.
It has been great to see that NASCA, like many other passionate Aboriginal organisations, are doing wonderful work within diverse Indigenous communities. Indigenous kids are the future of our community and deserve to be given every opportunity to achieve their dreams. I hope that whilst no longer at NASCA, I can continue to be a part of this community and watch on as they grow and deliver their effective and culturally mindful programs nationally.
You can find out more about the Aurora Internship Program here http://auroraproject.com.au/about-internship-program
Help young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders stay strong in their culture and identity.