Youth Programs in Remote Central Australian Aboriginal Communities

Youth Programs in Remote Central Australian Aboriginal Communities Report

  • Author(s): Melissa Lindeman, Anna Flouris, Jess Lopes
  • Published: 2013
  • Publisher: Centre for Remote Health

Abstract: Youth development programs have been a popular and successful approach to address various health and social issues among young Aboriginal peoples in Central Australia. Yet, little research has been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of youth programs in the region and much of the knowledge from local, national and international work is dispersed and often unpublished. A study was undertaken in a partnership between the Centre for Remote Health (CRH) and the Central Australian Youth Link–Up Service (CAYLUS) to explore the enablers and barriers of youth programs in remote Central Australian Indigenous communities. The study involved interviews with stakeholders such as community members (including young people), youth workers and community service providers (teachers, store owners, police and health workers). Participants (n=60) were drawn from one community in each of the three Central Australian Shires (Barkly, Central Desert and MacDonnell). Participants’ perceptions of effective youth programs operating in remote Aboriginal communities vary within communities and throughout the region; however, there are some identifiable common characteristics, including offering a broad range of sport and recreational activities. Consistent with findings from the literature review, programs need to be constant, reliable and regular, offer variety, focus on engagement, and be context–specific, meaning they should focus on the provision of meaningful, culturally relevant, gender and age status appropriate activities. They should incorporate the involvement, guidance, and support from older family members, and employ skilled youth workers who develop ideas and lead activities. It is also crucial that programs have appropriate funding and resources, including infrastructure. A ‘whole of community’ involvement in youth programs was often raised as the ideal. Youth–centred, context–specific’ provides a positive frame for the delivery of youth programs in remote settlements. Culturally safe service planning and delivery suggests locally–determined processes for decision–making and community ownership. In some cases, this may mean a community preference for all ages to access the service to engage in intergenerational and culturally relevant activities. Where activities are targeted at young people, yet open to and inclusive of all ages, they provide a medium for cross–generational interaction which requires a high degree of flexibility on the part of staff and funding programs. This also enables a ‘life skill focus’, with an emphasis on building connections (such as youth to youth, youth to adult, as well as between community groups), and requires coherent program design and implementation.

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Suggested Citation
Melissa Lindeman, Anna Flouris, Jess Lopes, 2013, Youth Programs in Remote Central Australian Aboriginal Communities, Report, viewed 04 December 2023,

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