Broome program gets wheels turning for Anthony Yakai

Life Without Barriers driving instructor Bob Johnson and Anthony Yakai.

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As a 19-year-old boy growing up in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, Anthony Yakai has faced many barriers to employment and training.

Anthony is from the Nyigina language group and grew up in Derby. He is the youngest member of four brothers and three sisters.

Thankfully he is surrounded by people who support him, including his sisters, who he says provide him with inspiration to “look for work”.

Like many young men, Anthony has always had a keen interest in cars. He loves tinkering with them and fixing them. Being from a large family and a remote area, he can see the benefits of honing his mechanical skills.

Last year Anthony was living with his sister in Derby. He was looking for something, either work or an apprenticeship to sink his teeth into, however there wasn’t anything available. Losing motivation and not having the relevant skills for a job or study, he was in need of another option. His sister inspired him to reach out and look for opportunities in Broome.

After coming to Broome in November last year, Anthony came to live at Nyirrwa Murrgurlayi (NM), an Education Employment and Housing (EEH) program facility run by Madalah. While living at the facility, Anthony has been able to upskill in the necessary areas and link up with local employers in Broome.

The WA Housing Authority established the Employment and Education Housing (EEH) Program to address the need for supported accommodation targeting Aboriginal people from remote communities to undertake training and access employment opportunities in regional centres. There are currently facilities in Broome, South Hedland and Halls Creek.

Anthony is currently undertaking a mechanics apprenticeship with Nirrumbuk. He attends courses two days a week. The mechanics course is perfect for Anthony as he is not only learning about his passion but also meeting new people who share the same passion.

“At the moment, it’s mainly theory, which I find pretty easy,” he said.

“I have mates doing the course and have made new friends who I’m living with at Nyirrwa Murrgurlayi.”

Studying two days a week has left Anthony plenty of time to engage in his other passion – footy.

“I like playing footy on the weekends,” he said. “I’m starting on Saturday with the Saints, so I can’t wait for that.”

The opportunity has also allowed him to get his much-desired driver’s license. Working with drive instructor Bob Johnson from Life Without Barriers, Anthony felt confident and trusted Bob, so lessons became enjoyable as well as instructive.

“Anthony was reliable and punctual, he listened well and gained skills progressively,” said Bob.

Anthony passed his Practical Driving Test on his first attempt, with the Department of Transport’s assessor remarking that Anthony was one of the best drivers he had ever had on the test.

Now Anthony can start saving up for his dream car.

Having a comfortable, safe and secure base in Broome close to his study is a huge benefit for Anthony. Critical to Anthony’s success is the support and services available to him since arriving at Nyirrwa Murrgurlayi.

“I really like living here,” he said.

“I get to meet new people. It’s a good fun place to stay. The staff give me lots of support and I’m cooking on my own for everyone in the house.”

NM Manager Joska Nayna said: “At Nyirrwa Murrgurlayi the EEH support staff have walked beside Anthony.

“He has learnt to accept help, speak more confidently, budget, connect with positive people, cook, clean and be responsible for himself.

“In April, Anthony ticked an important life skills box, obtaining his provisional driver’s license which will give him much sought after independence.”

“Anthony is happy here.”

Getting into a stable routine, with two days a week of study and safe, clean and supported accommodation is paving the way for a bright future for Anthony Yakai.

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