Codes 4 Life

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Reconnecting Aboriginal men with cultural identity, responsibilities and community.

The Codes 4 Life pro­gram focus­es on strength­en­ing the under­stand­ing and respect for the mul­ti­ple codes that are a part of men’s lives and iden­ti­ty, using AFL codes as a lens through which respect for rules can be dis­cussed. Devel­oped by Alyawarre/​Arrernte man Michael Lid­dle in 2016, the evolv­ing pro­gram has been deliv­ered in Alice Springs, Ten­nant Creek and a num­ber of remote communities.

Codes 4 Life start­ed with the sim­ple obser­va­tion by Michael that Abo­rig­i­nal men clear­ly under­stand the rules of foot­ball, play with­in them and lis­ten to the umpire. How­ev­er, after the game is over — what are the rules and who are the umpires they will lis­ten to? The pro­gram is built on the guid­ance of the Elders who play a key role in the ongo­ing devel­op­ment and deliv­ery of the program.

As Michael states, For a man on the straight path of Abo­rig­i­nal law, the jour­ney that takes us from being boys to being men, the answers are clear. That jour­ney teach­es us our rules, our respon­si­bil­i­ties and oblig­a­tions. We look at all the issues around our busi­ness and the destruc­tive aspects that alco­hol is play­ing and the trou­ble and despair that it is play­ing with our abil­i­ty to con­tin­ue the knowl­edge around coun­try. The ques­tion is put to the group that some­where, some­way, you are an own­er of coun­try; you are a care­tak­er of coun­try and you can’t be look­ing after coun­try if you are in jail. When you are in jail you miss a lot of cer­e­mo­ny, you miss a lot of law and you also miss a lot of meet­ings where you are need­ed to sit with your Elders and assist them to understand.”

The focus is not sole­ly on the rules of the Abo­rig­i­nal world. The pro­gram recog­nis­es that Abo­rig­i­nal men today have to act respon­si­bly in two worlds and over the two days the par­tic­i­pants hear from the police, from an Abo­rig­i­nal Legal Aid lawyer, as well as from the keep­ers of Abo­rig­i­nal tra­di­tions – Elders, and lead­ers from the Strehlow Research Centre.

Men attend­ing the work­shops have been referred from alco­hol, drug and cor­rec­tions pro­grams. Feed­back from the work­shops has been pos­i­tive: par­tic­i­pants appre­ci­ate the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss issues with senior Abo­rig­i­nal men and law offi­cers and with each oth­er. They come away with a bet­ter under­stand­ing of who they are, their con­text and strengths, and how to think more clear­ly about how they might live with­in the rules of their lives once back in their communities.

The pro­gram has been fund­ed through small grant fund­ing from the NT Gov­ern­ment and the finan­cial sup­port of DKA, how­ev­er we are now hope­ful that the pro­gram will be ful­ly fund­ed for the next three years, cre­at­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to strength­en and expand the pro­gram to women and youth.

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Michael Lid­dle deliv­er­ing a Codes 4 Life workshop.

Stories

Codes 4 Life Making a Difference | CAAMA

Aug. 11, 2018

DKA's Michael Liddle had a yarn with CAAMA Radio about Codes 4 Life, a program for Aboriginal men.

Sharing Knowledge | Territory Q

Jul. 01, 2018

Read about DKA's innovative projects in Territory Q.

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