Michael Liddle: Eight Years of Desert Knowledge

Jun 12, 2021

Services: Codes 4 Life, Desert Leadership

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.

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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.

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A Codes 4 Life work­shop group lis­tens to Michael’s mes­sage on culture.

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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.

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