Seeing Change in Western Australia
by Heidi Fuelling, Ministry Leader of Revive
It is tragic that a young child would be so trapped in a sense of hopelessness… it’s a tragedy that needs to be heard across the nation… (Gerry Georgatos)
According to Creative Spirits, there were 70 suicides per 100,000 people in 2014 in the Kimberley; the overall national rate in Australia is 11 suicides per 100,000; 44 suicides per 100,000 in Guyana, South America.
These tragedies cause many people pain, and leaves dozens heartbroken. (Tori)
The ABC has reported that the town of Leonora, in Western Australia’s northern Goldfields has also been devastated recently, losing four young people from the community to suicide since Christmas, all of them Aboriginal.
When young kids haven’t experienced love at home they go elsewhere as teenagers to experience it. (Loretta)
What is YWAM Perth doing to meet this great need of hope in Western Australia?
Looma is one of a number of communities YWAM Perth has been reaching out to over the past 5 years. Following the tragic suicide in Looma, permanent staff members located in the Kimberley were invited by the church to talk with community and church leaders. Our Revive team, whose ministry focuses on restoring significance to the lives of marginalised youth, will go again in July this year. Other staff and students on their Discipleship Training School will also facilitate after-school programs at the youth centre that has not had an employed youth worker for a number of years.
In Kununurra, East Kimberley, our Families Alive Team and counselling staff have been compiling a needs analysis of the region. Their heart is to strengthen what already exists by partnering with local churches as they walk alongside indigenous families. At Kununurra District High School, where indigenous youth make up around 50% of the students, Revive collaborated with the Chaplain to develop an Anti-Bullying program with 25 student council representatives at the school. “No-one has come to our school to develop a program that has been tailored to each year level” commented one teacher. These class leaders are now facilitating weekly sessions for their peers for the next six weeks until the Revive Team returns to follow-up in July.
Other involvement include: Rob and Andrea Taylor, YWAM Perth staff who re-located permanently to Kununurra in 2013. They have been connecting and partnering with Churches across the region, interceding in prayer for unity and serving practically to support the church as a whole. As well as this, the Media Art and Photography Discipleship Training School will travel to the Kimberley to use their training to advocate for the needs of the region. YWAM Perth staff will help facilitate two High School Youth Camps in partnership with local church leaders. Cygnet Films and our Children at Risk School will help run a youth program at a church convention in Halls Creek for over 15 different communities across the Kimberley in August. They will also serve in Mowamjum – an area devastated by a spate of suicides in the years 2012-2013. Beyond those teams, the 4WD Discipleship Training School has five vehicles travelling to remote communities to engage children and youth in activities. This list is not exhaustive as other YWAM Perth teams, ministries and schools continue to engage with the crisis.
Tori and Loretta, having both completed Discipleship Training with YWAM Perth, are part of this commitment to meet the need. Loretta also completed the Children at Risk School, and is enrolled in a Foundations in Education School in July. Tori has been accepted for a Foundations for Counselling School in October. Her vision is to develop a basketball and counselling program for remote communities in the Kimberley.
Opportunity is one of the blessed things that only a few find. Probably only 2% of us really discover what and how we can make home a better place to provide opportunity for the next generation. (Tori)
And as YWAM Perth, we’re behind these young leaders all the way. We are positioned uniquely with multilayered and multi-disciplined teams, to be in faith for things to come: the healing that is greatly needed, and the provision of opportunities. God has clearly directed us to establish our roots in Perth city, in the state of Western Australia. A city disciples a state – and work in Perth city has impact regionally, as far east as the Goldfields, and as far north as the Kimberley.
After stepping out in obedience, we have seen favour relationally, and the beginnings of a shift from devastation to hope in regional communities.
Would you like to know more about our involvement in Western Australia? Contact us at [email protected].
This article was published in the
July 2016 edition of Westcoast News.