Last week nine participants from the Deadly Youth Mentoring Program and the Nanga Mai Marri (Dream Big) Program visited the Royal National Park as part of a range of activities Souths Cares hosted during the school holidays.
The day kicked off with participants being picked up from Redfern and Matraville in the Souths Cares Bus before travelling to the Royal National Park. Arriving at picturesque Bundeena on Dharawal Country, the nine participants were accompanied by Deadly Youth Mentor Yileen Gordon and Nanga Mai Marri Mentor Willei Coe on a walk across the shoreline of Jibbon beach.
The group then explored the Aboriginal rock carvings at the end of Jibbon Beach which included whales, sharks, stingrays and men; indicating the site was was used for men’s ceremony. The carvings played a significant role in cultural practices, showing local and visiting Tribes what was available for trade and what food could be harvested in the local area.
After exploring the rock carvings, the group had lunch and a swim at Jibbon Beach before returning home in the afternoon.
The holiday activity was utilized as a means for rewarding program participants who had shown dedication to their education during Term 1 and to provide positive social activities during the school holidays.
The opportunity to get outdoors, build friendships and learn about Aboriginal culture proved to be a transformational experience for the participants, as explained by Deadly Youth Mentee, Cooper Greer.
“Today was an amazing experience exploring the National Park, learning about my culture and making new friends. This was one of the best days of my life!”, Cooper said.
Yileen Gordon, Deadly Youth Mentor stated being able to share these experiences with young people was a rewarding experience.
‘’Being able to keep our culture alive and passing on knowledge is something I hold close to my heart. The most rewarding part of today was seeing how eager our mentees are to learn about and share their culture”, Yileen said.