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NAIDOC 2023: For Our Elders

The NAIDOC 2023 theme – For our Elders – is a tribute to the significant contributions of the Elders in our community.  

At Youth Focus, we recognise the strength and resilience of the Traditional Owners of the Land and are committed to respecting and celebrating more than 60,000 years of connectedness to Country.

Across our organisation, we look to the Elders in our community for guidance and leadership. We know we can’t support young West Australians to thrive without Elders leading the way.  

Across Western Australia, we are grateful for the wisdom of our Elders – from Yamatji Country in Meekatharra, to Menang Noongar Boodja in Albany.

In Perth, Elders Aunty Muriel Bowie and Aunty Cheryl Phillips and Stephanie Ryder are at the heart of the Youth Focus Reconciliation Working Group. 

“I find working with Youth Focus enjoyable and have comfort in knowing that they take on board what we say and our suggestions,” Aunty Cheryl says. “I hope it encourages the Aboriginal kids to come and use these services.”  

“One of my favourite parts of working with Youth Focus is feeling welcomed and comfortable,” Aunty Muriel adds. “All of the staff are nice and friendly, and everyone is so easy to talk to and this means I feel at home at Youth Focus.” 

“I found a bunch of people that think like me, and want to do the same things I want to do for the young people and my community,” Stephanie says. “I feel so comfortable around everyone and I talk about Youth Focus that much that my family have gotten involved too.”  

Importantly, headspace Midland and headspace Northam are part of the Our Journey, Our Story project with Curtin University, led by Elders Aunty Cheryl Taylor, Uncle Paul Parfitt and Aunty Kathy Davis.  

At Youth Focus Meekatharra, we are guided by Aunty Viv. 

“Aunty Viv is an Elder, Mother, Grandmother, Sister, and Aunty,” Youth Focus Meekatharra Team Leader Paulette Anderson says. “Aunty Viv dedicates her time to Youth Focus, visiting fortnightly to teach young women the art of sewing.  

“Aunty Viv readily opens her doors to young people in need, offering them a safe haven regardless of the circumstances. She is always there, any time of the day or night.” 

It is with a great sense of pride and unity that we work alongside Elders across all our Youth Focus and headspace centres. Through this consultation and connectedness, we strive to provide a service that is safe, inclusive, and culturally sensitive for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In doing so, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people will experience a sense of belonging, trust and safeness at all Youth Focus services. 

This NAIDOC Week, we celebrate the wisdom of our Elders.