Stories

Angka Arretye: Telling it Straight

Dec 04, 2019

Services: Codes 4 Life, Desert Leadership

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.

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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.

Codes 4 Life also works close­ly with the Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment Pro­gram, Drug and Alco­hol Ser­vices Aus­tralia (DASA), Cen­tral Aus­tralian Abo­rig­i­nal Alco­hol Pro­grammes Unit (CAAA­PU), Depart­ment of Social Ser­vices, the NT Police Force, NT Depart­ment of Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tors and lawyers to deliv­er round­ed, com­pre­hen­sive pro­grams which par­tic­i­pants can relate to and effec­tive­ly engage with.

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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.

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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.

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