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Former AFL star Nathan Djerrkura launches Indigenous training program

Former AFL star Nathan Djerrkura launches Indigenous training program
April 12, 2018

Wanting to enhance employment opportunities for their own Yolngu people in North East Arnhem land, former AFL player Nathan Djerrkura and his brother Damien have launched an innovative employment program last year in their home town of Gove, 900 kilometres from Darwin.

Helping previously unemployed people into paid work and creating an Indigenous labour pool for large companies to access, the YBE employment program aims to help workers overcome barriers to work, such as social issues like overcrowded housing and substance abuse.

Nathan Djerrkura, who retired from the AFL at the age of 24 having played 21 games for the Western Bulldogs, said they had grown from six participants to 14 in the last month.

He told the ABC "It's such a great opportunity for our participants and what can happen for them and their future."

By partnering up with the Miwatj Corporation, the brothers were able to choose the most promising young people from its Work for the Dole program and take them into their fold.

Using funding from Aboriginal Workforce Grants, they then focus on getting the participants' skills and confidence up to a level that will allow them to transition from welfare into a full-time job.

The main employer of these new trainees is YBE - an Indigenous-owned civil works company that has been running in Gove for the past 50 years.

Workers can be engaged at the base level just doing maintenance or, if more advanced in skills, receive a placement with the company as an operational worker.

Jeremey Kee from the Miwatj Corporation said the program was an example of two Yolngu organisations "working together to pool resources, funding and expertise and achieving things together".

Nathan Djerrkura said it was key their program gave people the "right support that they need within a workplace".

"We try (to) tread carefully around that. Not push them too hard, but give them the right encouragement."

Damien Djerrkura said the initiative seemed to be working for all parties, adding "I think these little initiatives that we are starting to do to develop pathways, I think these things will only help the organisation be able to provide more opportunities in the future."

Images: Nathan Djerrkura playing for the Western Bulldogs (top) and Damien Dkerrkurra (third from the right) pictured with fellow YBE employees (below, courtesy of YBE). 

2nd April 2017 - REPORT HIGHLIGHTS VALUE OF INDIGENOUS RANGER PROGRAMS

23rd June 2016 - RIO TINTO TO PARTNER AFL INDIGENOUS PROGRAMS

27th March 2016 - AFL PROGRAM ENCOURAGES CULTURAL DIVERSITY ON AND OFF THE FOOTBALL FIELD

28th May 2015 - AFL SPORTSREADY LAUNCHES INAUGURAL RECONCILIATION ACTION PLAN

2nd June 2014 - AFL CONGRATULATED FOR BACKING RECONCILIATION INITIATIVES

15th July 2013 - AFL MULTICULTURAL ROUND CELEBRATES DIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

9th December 2011 - AFL INDIGENOUS PROGRAM RECEIVES BEYOND SPORT AWARD 


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