Young Indigenous Women's Leadership Camp

On September 18, 23 Indigenous girls from across the Kimberley came together for a 5 day Leadership camp with Garnduwa. There were girls from Broome, One Arm Point, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Billiluna, Kununurra, Yiyili, Looma, Wyndham and Warmun.

 Our fantastic bus driver Albert drove the girls from Broome to Warmun on the first night, where Warmun community was kind enough to donate the Yellow House for us all to swag out together. The girls went down to the basketball courts to play with some of the locals after dinner.

 Early the following morning we jumped back in the bus and drove the rest of the way to El Questro National Park, where our Camp Coordinator Mandy from Kununurra greeted us at our own private camp on a creek.

This year we were lucky enough to have traditional owners Nanna Kathy O’Reeri, Nanna Janet and Tyne Campbell welcome us to country and camp out with the girls for the duration of the camp.

 After the young leaders set their own rules for the camp, we begun with a craft workshop that separated the girls into four teams. This was followed by an amazing race activity and our first feed prepared by Mandy, and marshmellows by the fire.

 

Friday morning one team organised breakfast for all 40 of us, followed by aqua aerobics in the creek, organised by some of the participants. Garnduwa then facilitated our flagship Making Her Mark program at El Questro station with local Kimberley role model Katherine Dann. Kat ran a series of drills and a scratch match of footy, keeping her eye out for potential football stars. Then the girls split into their groups and were asked to talk about some of the skills we need to be leaders, on and off the field. The girls spoke a lot about the influence of social media, and how it can lead to nasty behavior but is also a positive tool for young mob to connect with each other. We were so impressed with the confidence and ideas of all the young women involved.

El Questro staff then took us on board the Chamberlain River Boat Cruise, where we were given a boat tour! The girls spotted crocodiles, catfish and wallabies and spitting fish, and we stopped to go through a smoking ceremony with our traditional owners of board, a truly special experience.

In the afternoon Jo Warren from Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Services ran a Masterchef challenge workshop. The teams were given a recipe and had 30 minutes to make their meal following a quiz about healthy choices.

 This year our camp had a number of marvellous workshops including:

  • Deadly Thinking with Marietta from Derby Aboriginal Medical Services, which focused on mental health for young Aboriginal girls in the Kimberley.

  • Sexual and Women’s Health with Kachina from Kimberley Population Health

  • Wellness rituals and self care with Chloe from Wyndham Youth Aboriginal Corporation

  • Personal Safety with Jo Warren

  • Nutrition with Shannon from Kununurra Allied Health

Zebedee Springs was a highlight for the girls, and a good time to just chill and relax together in one of the most iconic destinations in the Kimberley.

On our last night we reflected on the goals we had set at the beginning of the camp, and the experiences we had together. Rashinta summed it up perfectly, “at the start it was easy to say hello and now it’s hard to say goodbye”. Lots of strong friendships were made and the girls spoke about how excited they were to see each other at upcoming regional sporting events. It was a beautiful thing to sit down together and reflect on our place in the world, how we treat others, and how lucky we were to have been welcomed and cared for on Nyaliga country.

 

El Questro put on a fancy dinner for our presentation night, where 3 young leaders were awarded by our Leadership Coordinator Layla Yu.

 

We were so impressed by the behaviour of all the participants. The girls were inclusive and supportive of each other and all made an effort to talk to girls they hadn’t met before. It was heartwarming to see many powerful young female leaders from the Kimberley. We hope to continue to engage with these young women as they grow into role models for future generations.

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