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Central Australian $250 million blueprint brings safer summer initiatives for at-risk youth

Joseph Guenzler -

Central Australia is gearing up for a safer summer with new programs aimed at ensuring the well-being and engagement of young people.

In Alice Springs, a culturally-led diversion program is set to roll out, catering to around 50 at-risk Aboriginal youth in the upcoming months.

These efforts are part of the ongoing implementation of the $250 million plan, which federal authorities say will ensure a better and safer future for Central Australia.

Oonchiumpa will provide customised, culturally-led activities and interventions, including therapeutic camps and day trips for Aboriginal children and young people identified as particularly at-risk.

Yanyuwa woman and Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, Malarndirri McCarthy, said "parents know how important it is for young people to have things to do over the school holidays".

"Giving young people the chance to participate in positive activities is great for their wellbeing, and good for the community," she said.

"Oonchiumpa's local and culturally-led approach will have great benefits for young Territorian's social and emotional well-being, and their future."

The Camps, held on-Country, will bring together Elders, young people, and their families in various locations throughout Alice Springs, aiming to address challenges and forge new pathways for the well-being of young people, supported by the community.

These efforts are aimed at helping family and kinship bonds while linking young people to essential services encompassing health, wellbeing, and family support.

Additional activities in Alice Springs from December 15 to January 30 will include Arrente Boxing, sports programs, movie nights, water activities, art and music sessions, games, bush trips, and cultural camps.

More than half of the federal government's school holiday investment will be in remote communities, so families will not need to travel to town to participate.

Oonchiumpa Consultancy Services director Kristy Bloomfield said that after consultation with many at-risk young people and their families it became evident there is "a lack of cultural brokerage provided by Aboriginal people with the cultural authority and knowledge to connect families and young people with the services, Elders and communities most suited to build identity and bridge the gap between the two worlds we live in".

"With this in mind Oonchiumpa consultancy have developed the Alternative Service Response activity to direct our young people to the appropriate services and programs," she said.

In remote regions, the Central Desert Regional Council, MacDonnell Regional Council, Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation, and NPY Women's Council will coordinate activities, including the Hoops 4 Health regional basketball competition in Mutitjulu.

Funding will be allocated to 25 remote communities in Central Australia and 12 in neighboring WA and SA for the implementation of community-led activities.

Member for Lingiari, Marion Scrymgour, said the Alice Springs Summer Program has "more choices than ever before".

"A lot of thought and organisation has been put into the activities, and there's no cost to families," the MP said.

"Importantly, Oonchiumpa's innovative program takes a holistic approach provides wrap-around services for both the young person and their family.

"The program will be managed by a specialist culturally-lead organisation, include local mentoring, and cover health, wellbeing and skills training."

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