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'Going back to country with bosses': the Yiriman Project, youth participation and walking along with elders

  • Year: 2006
  • Author: Palmer, David; Watson, John; Watson, Anthony; Ljubic, Peter; Wallace-Smith, Hugh; Johnson, Mel
  • Journal Name: Children, Youth and Environments
  • Journal Number: Vol.16, No.2
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: Western Australia

This paper describes a new approach to youth participation and development used by a youth organization, the Yiriman Project, in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia. It offers an account of how people from isolated communities in the north of Australia organize bush trips, or what they call 'back to country' trips, to bring together the young, elders, and other community members. Not only is this used as a means to have young people 'participate' more fully in the life and experience of their community, but it also leads to a range of other events including young people's participation in land care, cultural education, fire management, science and economic development. This story offers an example of the multiple benefits of combining intergenerational contact, practical activities and the opportunity to 'return to country' to practice Indigenous lore and custom and involve young people more fully in the life of their community. It also demonstrates how important land-based activity, traditional culture, walking and other forms of physical animation are to youth participation with Indigenous young people.

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