A few new faces have started turning up for Friday night food and fun activities at the Walgett Police Citizens Youth Club. They are young women who now consider the PCYC a safe place to ‘hang out’, following the success of ‘Girls BREW’, an eight-week program to build connections in the small town in western NSW.
Twelve Indigenous girls aged between 12 and 18 participated in the program with a special focus on building resilience, following the loss of a 17-year-old local girl who most of the program participants knew or were related to. The program and weekend away was held with support from Highways and Byways.
“We really tried to engage the girls we knew needed support and we also wanted to strengthen the connections between the participants,” said Amanda Cheal, Club Manager of Walgett PCYC.
The girls gathered each week learning cooking and meal preparation, aboriginal art, dance and fitness, mentored by local Indigenous women and PCYC staff and volunteers. The program ended with an overnight stay at Pilliga forest where the girls had pottery lessons, which they loved.
One participant, Nyokia said: “The Girls BREW program gave me the opportunity and confidence to step out of my comfort zone. I really enjoyed the artwork lessons and especially the pottery class. The Police Officers, PCYC staff and workshop teachers were really helpful and lots of fun. I really looked forward to the program every week.”
Amanda said another key aim of the BREW (Belonging, Resilience, Empowerment and Well Being) program was to strengthen the relationships between the community and police, which at times can be negative experiences. The program helped break down these barriers and build new relationships with local police. Since BREW, Walgett PCYC has employed one participant and others are volunteering at the PCYC programs.
“The girls now feel like they belong at PCYC and enjoy hanging out and taking part in activities in a safe, positive and welcoming environment,” Amanda said.