A new program has officially launched in Melbourne this week is inspiring Indigenous youth to aim high and dream big.
Baldau Yiooghen Youth Leadership Academy is an initiative by Anglicare and The Long Walk, with the name meaning ‘big dreams’ in Wurundjeri language.
Danae McDonald is a Horsham student and aspiring Anaesthesiologist who participated in the pilot program.
“It’s helped me in a way to build my communication skills with people so that I’m able to become the doctor that I want to be,” Miss McDonald said.
“It’s also shown me that if I’ve been given and opportunity… I know through this program that I should take every opportunity that I can get because it will help me immensely.”
Run in partnership with Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative and Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative, the program links students and young people with Elders and industry experiences.
The 10-day pilot that Miss McDonald participated in saw students first visit Melbourne, Victoria where they visited partner organisations such as the Australian National Academy of Music, Melbourne Victory Football Club, Racing Victoria, and Federation University.
“We visited Opera Australia, Tennis Australia and places like that and learnt about the pathways people took to get to their jobs and how you didn’t have to be fully into sport to work in sport,” Miss McDonald explained.
Another participant Tanisha Lovett landed a traineeship with Goolum Goolum and is now enrolled in a Certificate IV in IT at Federation University.
“It taught me to put myself out there, even though it might feel scary or uncomfortable,” she said.
Community Development Manager, David Law said he is looking forward to supporting more students through the program.
“It’s about aspiration and everyone deserves a seat at the table. That’s the first and foremost thing – that you have the confidence to be who you are,” he said.
“My job is to create the environment that they feel safe to commence their own cultural journey, and their own aspirational journey.”