Michael Liddle: Eight Years of Desert Knowledge
Jun 12, 2021
Codes 4 Life Manager Michael Liddle has marked eight years at Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA).
Michael is a strong advocate of mental health and wellbeing in Indigenous men, and is dedicated to the betterment of the community, specifically in the areas of health and education.
His tenure at DKA began in June 2013 as Intercultural Engagement Manager, largely focused on addressing alcohol use and promoting the wellbeing of Aboriginal men through workshops in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.
He came to understand that a loss of culture and identity, and disregard for rules, were key drivers behind Aboriginal men engaging in unlawful behaviour – this prompted him to focus on finding ways to strengthen a connection to culture, and help Aboriginal men to understand the importance of following rules.
Having played Australian rules football for 25 years including being part of the Central Australian Football League, Michael often draws parallels from sport when communicating the importance of rules.
“Respecting the rules helps us succeed in our lives, not just on the footy oval,” says Michael.
“Just like we have a role to play on our football team, we have a role to play in our families and communities. Embracing the strength and value in culture helps us to understand our place in the world and the accompanying obligations.”
Combining his knowledge and experience from working in this space, and with strong support from Elders, Michael established the DKA flagship program Codes 4 Life in 2017. This provided a platform for the delivery of more structured workshops in Alice Springs and some surrounding areas. His focus: Identity, Responsibility, Legacy.
Michael discusses Codes 4 Life with Former Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion.
In 2019, Codes 4 Life received $1.36m funding from the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), which has allowed Michael to expand his work in Alice Springs and surrounding Central Australian communities, such as Laramba, Ampilatwatja (Amaroo), Alpurrurulam (Lake Nash), Tennant Creek, Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), Ti Tree, Atitjere (Harts Range), Finke, and more.
Over the past year, he has undertaken many community-focused initiatives, including working with local service providers to streamline deliveries; lobbying the NT Police to address secondary alcohol sales crossing the NT border from the Sandover region; participating in discussions around water usage in the Barkly Region and associated risks to the people on country; and playing a significant and active role in the Northern Territory’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
DKA is proud of Michael’s work and joins him in celebrating eight years at the organisation. His continued dedication to building strong communities, and his work in the social sector are to be applauded.
Michael was recently featured on the ABC’s Desert Tracks, where he spoke about growing up in Alice Springs, his time “running with the pack”, and the experiences that shaped his thinking and work.