Bourke Men’s Centre Project
The Men’s Centre will provide a dedicated space for local Aboriginal men and youth. A place to bring to life a vision of hope and healing, generating a positive ripple effect on their families and community.
The project will be delivered in Bourke in partnership with CatholicCare which has worked in the community for over 18 years. A dedicated men’s space with a Centre Coordinator who can coordinate volunteer activity is needed in the community. The project will focus on men who are disengaged or at risk of disengagement. This situation was recently described by an Aboriginal man: “ As an Aboriginal male myself who has dealt with his own trauma, I understand the barriers that are facing our men today; grief and loss, depression, domestic violence, sexual assault and incarceration are all traumas causing our men to turn to drugs and alcohol. Our youth are growing up without role models, and our disengaged men can’t break the cycle that is crippling them and the community around them.” By participating in a range of activities offered, the men will gain a sense of connection, build trust and feel safe to discuss issues impacting them and their families and engage in individual and group-based activities towards change and healing.
The Bourke Men’s Centre will operate weekly and be open for special events. The men will be given ownership of the content and schedule of the activities. The project aims to reach a minimum of 30% of the adult male population with 100 men directly benefiting. Another 250 women and children will be indirect beneficiaries.
The range of activities will include:
- Regular peer support groups
- Skill-focused wood or metal workshops
- Cultural didgeridoo and art workshops
- Behaviour-focused workshops e.g. Parenting Program, Men’s Behaviour Change program
- Men’s health education e.g. healthy eating, exercising
- Stress management techniques
- Embracing leadership roles e.g. mentoring younger men
- Celebrations e.g. corroborees
Eliminating Forced Marriage with Education
The project aims to combat human trafficking, specifically in the form of forced marriage, by implementing education and prevention strategies, which uphold the human rights of all people and give support to those impacted.
ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) finds that many young women and girls face forced marriage without knowing it is illegal in Australia. Discovering it is a crime, they are unsure of how to exercise their legal rights and they frequently face homelessness and social isolation. Leaders of communities are often unaware of the legislation, reporting procedures and available support. The evidence highlights the urgent need to expand the work of ACRATH and employ an Educator to continue raising awareness and providing support to teachers and leaders in Australia.
Meri, aged 18, looked forward to a short holiday with her uncle and his family in her country of birth. When she arrived overseas her passport and mobile phone were removed. Meri was kept in a compound for months with no contact with family in Australia. Meri was told to marry a man in his sixties who was an associate of her uncle. Terrified, she quietly contacted friends via the internet, who engaged the assistance of her Australian school teachers who had been trained by ACRATH. The school staff knew from their ACRATH training what to do and liaised with the Australian Federal Police to organise Meri’s escape and safe return to Australia.
- Employ an Educator
- Present the curriculum resource ‘My Rights – My Future: forced marriage’ to 40 schools identified as vulnerable to risk of forced marriage.
- Provide outreach to students, school leadership, counselling staff, teachers and entire school communities.
- Train priests, ministers of religion and marriage celebrants to detect and respond.
- Inform Government of the need for support and long-term accommodation.
- Record incidents of suspected, planned and forced marriage which contribute to a compelling case to advocate to government for systems change.
* Please note – Meri’s name has been changed to ensure her anonymity.
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