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Kimberley Connected tackles key issues faced by remote Aboriginal communities

Callan Morse -

More than 400 Indigenous students from across the Kimberley have gathered at Broome's Cable Beach to celebrate their completion of the Kimberley Connected program.

The program addresses key social and health issues faced by remote Aboriginal communities by creating positive youth engagement opportunities with schools and WA Police to tackle the decline in school attendance and the increase in antisocial behaviour and youth crime across the region.

Delivered by the Purple Hands Foundation and Fremantle Football Club, the program services participating schools in the Kimberley region who can engage in the program for free.

Fremantle Dockers Head of Community Engagement, Simon Eastaugh, said Kimberley Connected has seen significant growth since it began from a concept discussion in early 2021 to now engaging more than 900 students across the region.

"The power of partnerships has brought this program to life with WA Police, the National Indigenous Australians Agency, Department of Education, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, Garnduwa and the West Australian Football Commission working together to make it possible," Mr Eastaugh said.

"This collaboration allows us to tackle the key social and health issues remote Aboriginal communities face, by using the platform of Australian Rules football and the Fremantle Dockers to engage with local children and youth."

Culminating in an under 9s Australian Football League carnival and dinner under the stars, the Cable Beach Carnival is part of the program that sees primary and secondary schools take part in workshops that encourage students to attend school, connect to country, eat well and engage with locally based Police to build positive relationships with them.

It is a celebration of the work put into the Kimberley Connected program and is a reward for students who have attended workshops and been a positive role model for their school and community.

This year's Cable Beach Carnival was attended by Dockers players Josh Corbett, Conrad Williams and Mikayla Morrison, with Corbett highlighting how special it was to be involved.

"It's been fantastic to have Mikayla Morrison and Conrad Williams up here with me. I think both their arms will be pretty sore from signing autographs," Corbett said.

"I think Conrad being from up this way made it really enjoyable and a lot of the kids can see a pathway for people up around here with the likes of himself and Bailey Banfield."

A component of the program saw a partnership between the students, Purple Hand Foundation and the WA Good Food Guide, with remote students were asked to design a menu using local and native ingredients as part of their Kimberley Connected program in the lead up to the Carnival.

Schools sent in menus to three top Western Australian chefs including Scott Bridger from Bib and Tucker, Rohan Park from Old Young's and Stephen Watson from Heyder and Shears, who delivered a chef-prepared meal with ingredients inspired by the Kimberley students.

The Kimberley Connected Carnival was co-funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

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