For a number of years, a Bathurst-based group has been doing some outstanding community outreach work with Indigenous Australian youth to aid in their growth and development.
The Bathurst Young Mob [BYM] has been active since 2015, and strive to aid in the growth and development of Indigenous Australian children between the ages of 14 and 17.
“We provide a variety of opportunities for children who may not be able to access them on their own due to lack of finances,” BYM co-ordinator Shona Kennedy said.
“For example, playing sport can be a very expensive activity, and we run fundraising and sponsorship initiatives to enter teams in sporting competitions."
Last year saw the BYM enter an under 15s team in the Koori Knockout, a major rugby league competition for Indigenous Australians in NSW.
“Along with the competition, the team participated in a 12-week program focusing on health and well-being,” Ms Kennedy said.
“The program included cooking classes and fitness sessions, and proved beneficial in teaching the team members how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
The BYM is funded by the NSW Government’s Department of Family and Community Services [FACS] through their Place Plan funding scheme.
Place Plans focus on supporting Aboriginal community healing and activities to foster community pride.
Along with their sporting programs, the BYM maintains a strong partnership with Denison College Kelso High Campus through their ‘Generation Now’ program.
“The program works with students in Years 9 and 10 in order to enhance their well-being and employability,” Ms Kennedy said.
“Throughout the course of the program, students complete First Aid courses, obtain work health and safety certificates and participate in 100 hours of driving lessons.”
“In addition, headspace Bathurst run some sessions with students focusing on their mental health and how to effectively manage it.”
“If you go to school and you’re struggling with your well-being, it can make the learning process rather difficult.”
Last year saw seven students who had previously participated in the ‘Generation Now’ program conclude their schooling at Kelso High.
Of that number, four were accepted into university.
Throughout the four years of their existence, the BYM has catered for over 300 young people, some who have since become adults and have returned to the group as mentors.
“Once you’re a member, you never stop being one,” Ms Kennedy said.
A key success story of someone who has come through the BYM is Jake Callaghan, who has achieved a number of personal milestones.
As a result of his involvement with the BYM, Mr Callaghan has secured two part time jobs at Pizza Hut and Towri MACS Aboriginal Child Care Centre, and has been granted early entry into a bachelor of teaching degree at Charles Sturt University.
Mr Callaghan is also an active volunteer at the Kelso Community Hub, where he helps out with a number of community events.
“Jake’s developed a natural ability to lead and get other children on board with the BYM, which is in keeping with our core values,” Ms Kennedy said.
“He regularly comes to the Kelso Community Hub for our ‘Walk in Wednesdays’ program, and is always up for a game of basketball with the younger fellas.”
Ms Kennedy said the key focus of the BYM is to ensure that Indigenous Australian children are valued and have a voice in their community.