A nerve-wracking six minutes to tell a story worth $44,000 is how one speaker has described Pitch Night 2.
And that’s exactly what Kim McConville did at the recent Tamworth event, allowing her to get a potentially life-changing project off the ground for Aboriginal men in Moree.
The Beyond Empathy executive director says the community arts organisation will now be able to launch the Man Hut for 60 of “the absolute most disenfranchised men in the community”.
The Man Hut will be on the grounds of the new Sports Health Arts and Education (SHAE) Academy in Moree.
It will be a place where men trapped in cycles of disadvantage, mental illness, drugs/alcohol or crime will have opportunities to be creative, learn new skills and access services.
A carpenter/builder and Aboriginal case worker will work with the men to tinker, mend broken items from home, make new objects, fix lawn mowers and bikes, construct beds and upcycle found products – some for sale.
The Man Hut will be a “soft entry point” for health workers to access otherwise isolated men, build meaningful relationships, deliver counselling sessions and case management.
There will also be a focus on culture, with father-son and uncle-nephew sessions on making didgeridoos, learning to play and taking cultural fields trips.
Ms McConville said the Man Hut would provide a sense of purpose and pride for men who’d been “living on the margins of their community since they were children”.
“It’s really about addressing the low expectations these men have and are labelled with in Moree,” she said.
“It’s bleeding obvious that if somebody swims in a pool of low expectations, futility is their life raft.
“Low expectations undermine motivation and is the poison that sinks your boat.
“When you have big expectations of someone and honestly believe they can be more, and provide them with opportunities to test those skills, they step up …
“That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy or that change is linear, [but] they are wonderful human beings and deserve an opportunity.”
Ms McConville said Pitch Night had provided not only the funding for the program but also leads for other possible partnerships.
“It certainly engendered a spirit of collaboration rather than competition, which was really, really fabulous.”
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