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Young, Strong & Deadly

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great opportunity to highlight one of our commissioned services, Blue Mountains Aboriginal Culture Resource Centre (ACRC), and the amazing work they are doing with young Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people in our region through their Young, Strong & Deadly Program.

Young, Strong & Deadly is a dual early intervention Mental Health and Alcohol & Other Drugs prevention program for young Aboriginal people between 13-28 years of age. Delivered primarily through schools, the program is designed to strengthen young people’s connection to country and cultural identity, creating a positive sense-of-self and community. This creates a sense of belonging that increases their personal resilience and decreases their risks of mental illness and alcohol and other drugs addiction.

Research supports this program’s foundation – that there is a strong link between the connection to our culture and a positive sense of identity. Being in touch with our culture can have a protective factor that helps to decrease the impact of stressful life events and experiences. In this program, learning from Elders allows these young people to draw on long-held wisdom and to reconnect to the strengths of cultural knowledge.

Last week, members of our Mental Health and Communications Teams spent the day with ACRC, helping them create a video about the Young, Strong & Deadly Program. They had the opportunity to interview young people who had participated, and to speak with the Elders who lead the program. They witnessed the difference these types of programs are making, not only for the young people involved, but for the broader community through these young people.

This is what some of the participants had to say when they were asked what the program has given them:

“I'd say empowerment. It's made me feel a lot more-stronger about myself, like my identity, who I am as a person. As a proud growing man, not knowing much about my culture at the start of this, and to now learning about all the different cultures, and tribes. What they do in their tribe, it's real moving, and it's something that you can connect to very easily.

The uncles have all been nothing but respectful to me, and I appreciate that. In return I give them respect, and continue to be given opportunities from them. It's something I'll be thankful forever, their help.” - Young adult participant.

“At ACRC it's like one giant family. At school I was bullied, and being here is just the best.” - Young school age student.

“It's good for us, because we get to get out there and impart some knowledge on the younger kids. I guess that's how we retain our culture, isn't it? From generation to generation.” – Young adult participant.

ACRC welcomes all referrals and inquiries on 4782 6569 or via their website www.acrc.org.au.

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Lizz Reay's avatar
Lizz Reay is the CEO of Wentworth Healthcare, provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network. Previously Deputy CEO of Nepean Blue Mountains Medicare Local & Nepean Division of General Practice, she has an extensive background in public health.
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