One Year On – Aboriginal Connectors Program

14 May, 2024

One year after the expansion of the program from three sites to seven, all the Community Connectors are empowering Aboriginal high school students to become the people they aspire to be.

In the Stronger Communities with Aboriginal Community Connectors—NSW Aboriginal Land Council story, in February 2022, we heard about the Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council’s journey with the Aboriginal Community Connector program.

Since then, the Aboriginal Community Connectors program has expanded to seven locations and are building the resilience and strength of Aboriginal youth and their families.  Community Connectors are based in Local Aboriginal Land Councils and are funded by NSWALC through its partnership with the NSW Department of Education and the Cabinet Office.  

The added benefit for LALCs working with Community Connectors is that it helps strengthen the relationships the LALC has with the Aboriginal Community.  For the future of the LALCs to remain strong, they need the next generation to lead the way, and this program has provided a relationship with the young people in the Community.

Through the support of the Connectors, a number of students in years 10 – 12 and their families have experienced a transformative journey. Community Connectors have not only re-engaged students with their education but also significantly improved their learning outcomes, paving the way for them to conquer their HSC goals. This person-centred approach has been instrumental in developing their confidence and addressing any barriers to learning and employment.   

The Community Connectors program has had a significant and measurable impact on both the students and the Community. The programs have led to positive student re-engagement and have also shown improvements in the student’s health and well-being. 

What have the Community Connectors been doing over the past year? It appears to have been a great deal of hard work with successful outcomes and achievements. Read on to discover what programs have been developed and the impact it has had on the students and community.

Community Connectors
Casey Howard, Community Connector, Tamworth LALC

Casey HSC success story
Casey Howard has played a vital role in the success of 39 Year 12 graduates in Tamworth. Together with a cultural mentor, Chris, Casey has organised programs such as “Deadly Brothers” and “Connecting to Country” to engage students and help them grow academically, emotionally, and culturally. Moreover, Casey’s initiative of establishing an afterschool study centre will continue the academic support for Aboriginal students. Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council Visit:  Stronger Communities with Aboriginal Community Connectors – NSW Aboriginal Land Council

Community Connectors
Angie Newman, Community Connector Lightning Ridge LALC

Angie’s Mentorship – Lightning Ridge 
Angie Newman’s mentorship programs and cultural camps in Lightning Ridge have had a significant impact on the lives of at-risk youth. By utilising cultural knowledge, she has helped these young people grow personally and academically. Angie’s guidance has led many students towards education and employment pathways, including school-based apprenticeships and university placements. Lightning Ridge Local Aboriginal Land Council

Shelly Bayliss, Community Connector Dubbo LALC

Shelly’s Assistance in Narromine, Trangie and Dubbo
Shelly Bayliss takes a proactive approach in Dubbo to help students secure employment opportunities and access essential services like health check-ups and vision screenings. By addressing immediate needs such as school supplies and employment support, Shelly ensures that students can focus on their education and future goals. Dubbo Local Aboriginal Land Council   Visit:  Shelly Bayliss – Shooting Goals for Aboriginal Western NSW Youth.

Pamela Widders, Community Connector Armajun Armidale Aboriginal Health Service

Pam’s Tutoring Programs 
Pam Widders has been running tutoring programs in Armidale, Uralla, and Walcha that have significantly contributed to improving students’ academic achievements and engagement. Her approach involves providing subject-specific assistance and giving students access to health services, which ensures they have the necessary resources to excel academically and personally.
Armajun Armidale Aboriginal Health Service

Frances Dutton, Community Connector Wilcannia LALC

France’s Innovative Approach to Children’s Books
Frances Dutton collaborated with Big Picture to reconnect students with low attendance and engagement levels, using hands-on experiences on Country. She created a children’s book and engaged younger students, fostering pride and accomplishment. Frances’ approach helped students acquire new skills and develop a deeper connection with their surroundings, resulting in better academic performance and self-confidence. Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council

Robbie Townsend, Community Connector, Bega LALC

Robbie’s health and well-being programs
Robbie Townsend’s efforts in Bega have led to the introduction of several well-being programs, including the “Wake up Well” sessions and “Surfing with the Mob,” offering students avenues for physical activity and cultural immersion. Robbie’s personalised support has helped struggling students discover their passions, leading to increased engagement at school, improved confidence and employment.
Bega Local Aboriginal Land Council

Jordan Moore, Community Connector, Orange LALC

Jordon’s Outreach in Orange
Jordon Moore’s impact as the Orange Community Connector goes well beyond the school grounds. He has established valuable partnerships that has produced programs such as the “Boys to Men” initiative and NAIDOC week events, which help students connect with their culture and provide them with essential support for academic and personal development. Jordon’s unwavering commitment has enabled students to become leaders and mentors in the community. Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council

Visit: Aboriginal Community Connectors on alc.org.au

Acknowledgement

We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.

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