Connecting our young people to culture

Meet Ben, a Ngandawal Midjungbal man of the Bundjalung Nation and a Cultural Support Worker at Anglicare Southern Queensland. Ben supports young people in out of home care.

This week, as we celebrate NAIDOC Week, we shine a light on the special people in our organisation that support young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to connect to their family, kin, community and culture. This is a big part of this year's NAIDOC Week theme, which is Heal Country, Country is not only classified as the place you call home , Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. 

Our Cultural Support Workers play a vital role and are committed in ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are in our out-of-home care keep connected to their family, kin, community and culture.

“I feel that I make a difference by supporting our young people and giving a cultural lens to situations, and helping staff understand different situations.”

“I also feel that I’m able to share my cultural knowledge with the young people so that they can grow up with some sense of identity in who they are and being able to carry that through their life,” said Ben.

Ben has been working in community services and with young people for 11 years across different areas including Youth Mentoring, Homeless Youth, Youth Detention, as a Cultural Advisor and now in his current role with Anglicare Southern Queensland.

“I have a passion for working with young people and also for sharing my culture and knowledge. I believe that sharing knowledge is key to breaking down barriers as it helps us to develop an understanding about each other,” said Ben.

“The feedback that we get from staff about how excited the young people are to learn about their culture makes me feel proud. It’s usually after we have met with them or participated in an activity with them it’s something that really stands out for me.”

A day in the life of Ben can look very different depending on the day, some of the work he does with the young people will be yarning in the home, taking them into nature or connecting with them through cultural activities, such as art.

Another part is connecting the young people to culture through bush walks and showing them things in nature and engaging them in local community events for significant dates, such as NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Week, held throughout the year. It’s all about immersing them in their culture and teaching them more about each aspect.

Ben finishes off by recognising the hard work done by the young people he works with, and the support from other teams.

“I would like to acknowledge the staff that work with our young people day to day as they have been doing an amazing job. I would also like to acknowledge how open the staff have been to the cultural support program and how supportive they have been as well.

It’s a new program that is starting to find it’s rhythm and our staff and young people have really made that possible by engaging and supporting us in what we are working to achieve.

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