• “It felt good to make this with my mates. It’s things I like and things belonging to my country. I feel really good when I walk into the music room and see this artwork on the wall.”

    Toby* has had a complex and troubled past.

    Now 16, Toby was moved around 23 residential placements through childhood. Until recently, he was deeply entrenched in the juvenile justice system; locked in a cycle of crime and detention. Often, after being released from a detention centre, it would only be a matter of days before he’d re-offend, only to be sentenced again.

    Before entering Save the Children’s Justice Case Management program in Kununurra, Toby was completely disengaged with school and was disconnected from his local community.

    Nearly a quarter of students in the Kimberly are considered at ‘severe attendance risk’ when it comes to engaging with school. Many children across the vast, sparsely populated region have trouble adjusting in mainstream classrooms and lack the basic skills required to access entry level work opportunities.

    Save the Children’s Youth Engagement Strategy (YES!) program is one of our many youth support programs helping to fill the gap for young people who are disengaged with school and ill-equipped for the workforce.

    Specifically, the YES! program works to increase the engagement and attainment of young people struggling to align with the mainstream educational format. It’s an alternative learning program for kids aged between 9 and 15 that provides one-on-one mentoring and a specifically tailored curriculum to help students re-engage with school or re-direct them to explore alternatives.

    Toby attended YES! as part of his Youth Justice Case Management program. He’s now considered a leader within the program among his peers and by his teachers and support staff.

    He was also provided with a music mentor who helped him develop his percussion skills. A highlight for Toby was playing drums for Daryl Braithwaite who presented him with the drumsticks from his set playing in Kununurra for the Kimberley Moon concert.

    Toby hasn’t attracted any trouble in months. His complete turnaround and renewed commitment earned him a recent nomination for Junior Outstanding Achievement at the Aboriginal Achievement Awards in Kununurra.

    He was ‘pretty stoked’ with his nomination.

    Save the Children operates a range of programs in collaboration with local community partners across the Kimberly region. The programs aim to increase young people’s engagement with education, support the development of life skills and help maintain connection with culture and community. They include:

    • The Chilling Space – The Kununurra Chilling Space provides a safe and engaging place for Aboriginal children and young people aged 12–18 to attend life skills workshops, case management and recreational activities.
    • Kununurra Night Patrol – The Kununurra Night Patrol addresses late night street presence and associated risk taking behaviour. It provides a transportation service and a safe place at night for Aboriginal children and young people aged 12–18.
    • Strong Tomorrow – The Strong Tomorrow program aims to increase young people’s safety, positive connection with community, life skills, cultural values and alternative pathways to access education.
    • Youth Justice Services – This program is an intensive mentoring and case management program for young people referred by the Department of Corrective Services. It aims to reduce offending behaviour through one-on-one support, positive relationship development and positive pathways to help build stronger, safer communities.