Straight Talk: “I was born to do this”
Aug 21, 2020
Wayne Scrutton began his journey with DKA as Codes 4 Life Project Officer in August 2019. A happenstance while looking for work elsewhere led to him crossing paths with Program Manager Michael Liddle, who quickly realised Wayne would be a perfect fit for Codes 4 Life.
After a chat about the program and what it does, a peek into the workshops it delivers, and an interaction with some of the troubled kids the program works with, Wayne decided, “This is what I wanna do. I want to talk to and get through to youngfellas and olderfellas.”
Since then, he has been involved in ten Codes 4 Life workshops and several community engagement sessions, working with Central Australian Aboriginal Congress or visiting the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre.
Wayne speaks to at-risk youth in the CASSE program, Shields for Living, Tools for Life. (Photo: CASSE Australia)
He admits, going into his first juvenile workshop, he expected to see “big muscle” youngsters, and was surprised to see kids as young as 10 with most being no older than 14.
Reflecting on his adolescent years, Wayne believes he can relate to the mind-set of troubled kids and is able to connect with them effortlessly, saying, “I’ve done what you’ve done.” He wants to get through to them and change their behaviour before they end up in the big house.
On workshops with adult participants, Wayne emphasises that it is a significantly different approach from the juvenile workshops, saying, “We are not perfect men ourselves.” He most enjoys “the time spent in the workshops, getting feedback from the blokes who attend them, and connecting with the blokes in the big house”.
His ability to converse in eight languages and close family ties across Central Australia are an immeasurable asset to the program, helping the team quickly establish working relationships at communities and fast-track the delivery of workshops.
Wayne designed the official Codes 4 Life shirts, which are worn by the Codes 4 Life team, Elders and co-facilitators.
Although he stresses that it has not all been smooth sailing for him at Codes 4 Life. After more than two decades of physically-intensive work in mining, railways, and power and water, he initially found it challenging to sit at a desk for extended periods of time. He rather enjoys working with his hands and going out to communities.
The coronavirus lockdown intensified feelings of restlessness, but Wayne and the Codes 4 Life team quickly adapted the program to fit the NT’s restrictions and continue their work to build stronger communities. He looks forward to travelling to remote communities for workshops now that restrictions have eased.
A man of many talents, Wayne has an affinity for art, both traditional and digital. Having created paintings and designed the official Codes 4 Life shirts, he now has an interest in producing digital content for the program.
After delivering a workshop at Hermannsburg (Ntaria) to 25 participants last week, the team is now planning two more program deliveries over the next fortnight. The positive feedback the program receives in communities is a powerful incentive for Wayne to work with Codes 4 Life.
He enjoys working with Michael and believes his time with the program has made him a different man, saying, “I was born to do this work.”