When Jacob, 13, from Darug land in Western Sydney, was invited to share a story about making a positive choice, he didn’t have to look any further than his school yard.
Jacob told of how he looked up to Ricky, a Kamilaroi Year 12 student in his school who had brought together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students by teaching them about Indigenous culture.
“Some of the boys were mucking around and mocking it,” Jacob said.
“He taught them how to be respectful of Aboriginal people, and how important our culture is, not just to us but to them. They don’t mock it anymore.”
Jacob’s story was just one by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Western Sydney and Tasmania included in a new school-based drug and alcohol prevention program.
The children aged 12-14 were invited by researchers from the University of New South Wales to enter a competition by sharing a written story, video, speech or song about a time when they had made a positive choice and about rolemodels who had influenced them.
The stories will be used in a new drug and alcohol prevention program.
Jacob’s efforts recently attracted an award certificate from federal Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt.
Runner-up Clair, 13, wrote about the positive choices she made in choosing schools.
The winner, 14-year-old Emily from Tasmania, shared her artwork and a story about Aboriginal culture in her community and the importance of learning how to make shell necklaces.
“My good decision was to start making shell necklaces and it has connected me to thousands of years of my history,” she said.
“This has made me feel that I belong and very happy that someday I will pass this tradition down to my family.”
Mr Wyatt said the stories were engaging.
“The competition unearthed many moving and uplifting stories about rolemodels, positive turning points in young people’s lives, overcoming drug or alcohol use and resisting peer pressure,” he said.