Reconnecting Aboriginal men with culture and driving positive change.
Codes 4 Life aims to drive positive change around men’s behaviour by focusing on identity, responsibility and leaving a strong legacy for the next generation. The program is designed to address and prevent alcohol-related unlawful behaviour such as domestic violence, sexual assault and driving under the influence, by reconnecting Aboriginal men with their culture, and instilling a sense of understanding about their identity and responsibilities within the community.
This year, the program has been strengthened with $1.36 million funding by National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), formerly the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The funding has supported the more frequent delivery of programs across Central Australia.
Over the last fortnight, Codes 4 Life has delivered two workshops including one in Alpurrurulam and one at the Desert Knowledge Precinct in Alice Springs. Both workshops were well-attended with a combined participation of about 70 Aboriginal men.
The Codes 4 Life workshop held at the Desert Knowledge Precinct.
“Where do I come from,” and, “What do I stand for,” are common questions for many Aboriginal men to grapple with. Codes 4 Life is working to address issues stemming from disadvantage and trauma, and lend clarity to their sense of being and purpose under the presence and guidance of Elders and senior leaders within the Aboriginal community.
Senior Aboriginal leaders Andrew Davis (Aranda), Peter Wallace (Aranda), Ronnie Webb (Aranda/Allyawarra), Robert Hoosan (Pitjantjatjara/Luritja) and Martin Hagan (Anmatjere) were present at the workshop held at the Precinct to offer their guidance and support.
The Codes 4 Life workshop in Alpurrurulam. The program incorporates a variety of tools and communication methods into its workshops to ensure a rounded delivery.
Sergeant Amit Singh from Camooweal Police travelled to Alpurrurulam to speak to workshop participants about respect and law enforcement, explaining that the role of the police was to ensure public safety and that issuing an arrest was a last resort. His visit inspired a healthy understanding between the NT Police and the Indigenous men.
Sergeant Singh, along with the Elders and lore man, emphasised the importance and need for men to follow the right path and be leaders for the next generation. The effect of this was witnessed in a participant expressing his ambition for self-development saying, “I want to provide for my son; not just in a materialistic way, but to be able to offer guidance.” The participant went on to explain how he was able to connect with his inner self when he went out bush, and this was the version of himself he wanted to show his son, not the one being swayed by external influences.
The Codes 4 Life goal of communicating the importance of responsibility and stability is invigorated by having a variety of engagement methods including presentations, group talks, activities and showing video clips. Despite participants spanning a wide age range between 16 to 58, the focus on “angka arretye”, which is Alyawerre for “straight talk” or “telling the truth”, encourages participation and promotes open communication.
Evaluation sheets are handed out at the end of the sessions to elicit feedback and understand potential areas for growth. Follow-ups are organised with participants within three to four weeks of the workshops, to determine the effect on the participants. Codes 4 Life is seeing a hugely productive outcome from the workshops and follow-ups, with participants communicating a positive change in their cognitive processes, expressing a desire for personal growth, and calling for more workshops.
Michael Liddle at the Codes 4 Life workshop at the Desert Knowledge Precinct.
Codes 4 Life Manager Michael Liddle is committed to the continued development of the community, and says, “Our hospitals are filled up; our courthouses are filled up; our jails are filled up. The one place not being filled up is our schools. We need more policemen; we don’t need more football heroes.”
Codes 4 Life will end the year with a final program delivered in Tennant Creek on 12th and 13th December before gearing up for a busy 2020.