Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Donna and Kristal Hilarie and 20 Aboriginal young people participating in their Xpression modelling and mentoring program.
The program was initially created by Donna and Kristal to model silk clothing designs developed by the internationally-renowned Nyoongar artist Peter Farmer.
Since then Xpression has evolved into a more comprehensive mentoring and development program, helping the Aboriginal young people involved to build their confidence, skills and positive connections with the community.
The young people I met yesterday spoke to me about the importance of the program’s strong community and cultural approach, which builds cohesion and peer support within the group, as well as the opportunities provided to do things they would not otherwise experience.
So far the program has helped a number of the young people to identify potential career pathways as well as better managing issues that affect their day-to-day lives.
I am very interested in these sorts of community-based mentoring programs, as young people have reported in many of my office’s recent consultations how important role models and a range of trusted, supportive adults are in their lives.
Mentoring programs based on popular sports are very important and relevant, but it is also important to provide opportunities for young people to participate in other activities that meet their interests and broaden their connections with the community.
I congratulate Donna, Kristal and the young people from the program for their achievements.