The Aboriginal Gathering Place and broader Doveton community will come together next month to celebrate the success of a group of local Koori students who recently graduated from Year 12 while taking part in the Strong and Deadly program.
Aiming to engage young Indigenous men aged between 10 and 25, the Strong and Deadly program provides a range of activities to help them build healthy lives, stay in school and access further training and development opportunities.
In partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) and Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative (DDACL), the Aboriginal Gathering Place runs the program with the support of the City of Casey.
While the program encourages the participants to be physically and mentally healthy, it also encourages school attendance by providing homework support, one on one mentoring and connections to potential employment opportunities.
Throughout the school year, participants in the program have been heading out the door at 5.00 am three days a week, every week, to take part in sporting activities such as swimming, boxing, basketball or other physical activities to get them up and active.
The group then heads to the Aboriginal Gathering Place to freshen up, have a healthy breakfast and prepare lunches before being dropped off at school or work.
As a result of the program, the participant’s school enrolments increased from 30 per cent to 97 per cent, and many have gone on to encourage other young men in the community to attend school and practice healthy habits.
River Gum Ward Councillor Damien Rosario is excited to share the success of the program and acknowledges the commitment that was shown by each individual participant.
“I wish to congratulate the Year 12 graduates and give them credit for the hard work and persistence they have shown throughout the program,” he said.
“The program has supported them but in the end, it has been their own commitment that helped bring about positive change to their lives.”
Cr Rosario’s ward partner Councillor Wayne Smith also congratulated the graduates and echoed his ward partner’s comments.
“It has been fantastic to see that the participants in the program have gone on to encourage other young men in the community to practice healthy habits and lifestyle choices,” he said.
“This is just one of the many initiatives that shows how important the Aboriginal Gathering Place is to our community.”
A celebration will be held on Wednesday 4 December at 5.00 pm at the Aboriginal Gathering Place 20 Agonis St, Doveton.