A NEW Tamworth program is determined to create a generation of “culturally confident” Aboriginal youths.
The Gomeroi Culture Academy will open its doors early in the new year, but there is already plenty of buzz in the community.
The 12-month program, aimed at local kids aged 13 to 17, will offer weekly cultural workshops, as well as, one-on-one mentoring.
“There is a real hunger from young people to learn about culture and to get past the introductory conversations,” Marc Sutherland said.
“People are really keen, a lot of workshops just scratch the surface.”
The culture academy has been established by the Gomeroi Dance Company, in partnership with Yinarr Maramali and Joblink Plus.
Mr Sutherland said it flips the formula of doing a little bit for a lot of people and has set out a bold goal.
“We want a generation of culturally confident young people in the community,” he said.
It will provide a range of experiences and practices, including dance, language, carving, weaving, plant identification and purposing, so the children can fully “understand the country we live in”, Mr Sutherland says.
While the academy might only be open to about 30 participants once it commences, it is hoped the program will expand.
And Mr Sutherland predicts it will have positive “ripple effects in the community”.
Personally, for Mr Sutherland, it’s also a way to give back to the “supportive” local community and relay the messages which have been passed on for generations.
“I was fortunate to grow up in a community that have always been supporting culture,” he said.
“We’re making sure that process goes on.
“The support and guidance we’ve had in Tamworth from the older Aboriginal community, we’re hoping, now we’re in a position to establish an annual program we can give back support by formalising what’s been done for thousands of years.”
It’s hoped applications for the Gomeroi Culture Academy will open on Friday, December 1 with the first session set to start around the beginning of the first school term in 2018.