13 September 2018
Archipelago joins forces to save young people

A whole archipelago has joined forces in a bid to save its young people from boredom and anti-social behaviours.

The Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) signed a historic agreement with three other organisations this month to use sport and recreation to combat youth disengagement.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the ALC, East Arnhem Regional Council (EARC), Bush Fit Mob and Australian Football League NT (AFLNT) sets out a coordinated approach to increasing sport and recreational activities for the young people of Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island, upgrading facilities and sharing resources.

ALC chair Mr Tony Wurramarrba said the archipelago had a serious shortfall of healthy recreational activities for children.

“One of our aims is to develop the athletic potential of children, whether that’s in football or marathon running,” Mr Wurramarrba said.

“And the other is to be able to offer fun, active activities such as BMX riding and going to a water park with parents.

“We know that sport and activity has the power to transform lives, so we at the ALC have been working really hard to play our part in many of the challenges that our communities face.

“We want to increase the range of sport and recreation activities out there so that something will appeal to everyone and will sufficiently engage them to continue.

“We believe sport and recreation can break down barriers between Anindilyakwa clans who might not otherwise engage, as the rules of sport and recreation are not based on clan systems. 

“We also believe more mentors can provide positive role models for at risk young people and help our young people to realise their importance in society.”

ALC chief executive Mr Mark Hewitt said both EARC and AFLNT had already contributed many years to this goal, and had notable success and achievements.

“This agreement has originated as a result of the deep appreciation and recognition of their substantial investment, tireless effort and diligent planning, combined with the local communities’ desire to further expand, consolidate and coordinate more sport and recreational activities for the youth of their archipelago,” Mr Hewitt said.

Bush Fit Mob Director Mr Nick Kenny said: “Kids of the Groote archipelago deserve the same opportunities to experience educational, sporting and cultural interests of kids who live on mainland Australia. With a collaborative approach and guidance from local employees the organisations of this MOU can pool skills and resources to create opportunities for kids that have not been available on Groote Eylandt ever before. We believe this approach will have a positive impact on school attendance, social behaviours and quality of life for our Groote Eylandt children. Sport can be a great vehicle for social change and it can inspire unite people in ways that little else does.”

East Arnhem Regional Council, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Barry Bonthuys said: “This agreement not only strengthened the relationship between the parties, but also increases the capacity to deliver programs and activities which are so vital and an essential part of community life on Groote Eylandt. These programs create opportunities for the development and growth of possible talent in our communities that would otherwise not be possible.”

Australian Football League – NT, Chief Executive Officer, Mr Stuart Totham said: 

“This MOU is a wonderful development for Groote Eylandt and will provide even greater opportunities for regular sporting activities on the island. The ability of each organisation to support each other with program offerings, competition management, resources, ideas, and expertise will be just some of the additional benefits. Through this agreement, AFLNT is excited to continue with the delivery of high quality programs and football competitions for the region.”

The ALC is currently funding a major sport and recreation infrastructure upgrade on Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island.

Koro Amagula of Angurugu was among the many students who gave it their all at the 2018 Groote Eylandt interschool sports day excursion at Thompson Bay. All four Groote schools were in attendance in an event joinly run by Bush Fit Mob, East Arnhem Shire Council and AFL Northern Territory.