“I didn’t know much about my Aboriginal culture or where I was from or anything because I was adopted when I was nine months old,” explains 19-year-old Terrence Murphy from Sydney.
But by participating in World Vision’s Young Mob Leadership Project, which is supported by Linking Hands, Terrence said he has learned “heaps” about his heritage – and how to be proud of it.
The Young Mob Leadership Program enables urban Indigenous youth like Terrence to gain skills in public speaking and leadership to improve confidence and self-esteem. It also offers opportunities for them to learn more about their Indigenous culture, reinforcing their Aboriginal identity.
Sydney is home to nearly 40,000 Indigenous people - and the youth proportion is high. So it made sense for World Vision to base its Indigenous youth leadership program here. The Young Mob Leadership Program is part of the broader Sydney Koori Leadership Program and aims to increase culturally appropriate leadership development opportunities for Koori youth.
The program helps Koori youth to develop personal and professional skills such as confidence, conflict management, positive thinking, goal setting and supporting others. At the same time, participants learn about their own culture and have the chance to exchange knowledge with other Indigenous communities.
Since completing the eight-week program, Terrence said he has become more confident. It has also inspired him to support other young Indigenous males in his community. “Just because you are Aboriginal it doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything or can’t achieve anything,” he explains.
In August Terrence tackled the treacherous Kokoda Trail with Indigenous youth from around Australia.
Terrence works with the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence. He is the co-founder of a tennis program, which offers free after-school lessons to youth in Redfern; creating employment opportunities for Indigenous people. Terrence was able to road test his public speaking skills when he and other Indigenous youth met Prince William during his tour of Australia earlier this year. “At first I was like, ‘why did they pick me?’ and then we all got to sit down and talk with him. I talked to him about the tennis program and what I was doing; he found it quite interesting.”
The Young Mob project’s focus on developing leadership qualities amongst Koori youth is a crucial element of World Vision’s efforts to reduce Indigenous disadvantage. About two-thirds of Australia’s Indigenous population is under 25 years of age, and they often bear the brunt of social problems such as inadequate housing, poor health, substance abuse and lack of education and employment opportunities.