Youth Off The Streets is dedicated to providing young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with opportunities to immerse themselves in and expand their knowledge of their culture. As part of our focus on developing cultural connections, we run an Aboriginal Dance Group out of our Macquarie Fields site, the Koch Centre for Youth and Learning.
The Aboriginal dance program involves young people learning about their culture and traditional dance routines. It also gives the young people the confidence to perform in front of their families, friends, community members and elders.
The program went from starting off with five young people attending, growing into fifteen at a session. The program was based on young people learning about culture but grew into our group having the confidence to get painted up and perform in front of an audience.
Young people learn new dance routines each week, but the troupe isn’t just about dancing. After each session staff and young people have a yarn and something to eat and drink and talk about how they thought today’s session went.
This opportunity gives young people the chance to perform at events such as NAIDOC week, Schools, Youth Off The Streets events and any other ceremonial events. Local community members and organisations contact our Aboriginal services team to request our dance group perform for them.
Joshua Fern, a Youth Off The Streets Youth Worker and member of the Aboriginal Dance Group says that this is a fantastic initiative for young Aboriginal people.
“For the young people to have done this is massive” he said. “For me to see a program that I was unsure about develop into what it is now makes me a proud youth worker. The smile on the young people’s face after a great performance is what matters.”
The program has been a positive change in these young people’s lives as most of the young people were at risk of disconnecting with culture and community until they started coming to the program. Our young people have learned to respect each other, respect others and respect their culture.