Straight Talk: “I was born to do this”

Aug 21, 2020

Services: Codes 4 Life, Desert Leadership

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.

Magnify 5 CASSE project

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.

Magnify Wayne shirts

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.

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Wayne at the Desert Knowl­edge Precinct.

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.”

Tags: Codes 4 Life , Desert Leadership , Desert Knowledge Australia , DKA

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