CASPA Services held our first Cultural program for our young people in the Northern Territory over at Mandorah, which is on the Cox Peninsular, or the "Cox Pen" as we locals call it!  Mandorah was chosen as our destination as it is a stunningly beautiful and isolated part of the Top End, yet only a 15 minute ferry ride from Darwin!

As connecting with aspects of Aboriginal culture is invaluable for young Aboriginal people, especially those who have been disconnected and displaced, we wanted to provide the opportunity for our young people to learn from, and alongside, elders and positive peer role models to help them to learn about their culture and their place within it!

Larrakia Elder Lorraine Williams, who is a resident of the Mandorah surrounds, supported and guided the teaching of weaving, hunting and gathering mangrove shellfish and cultural knowledge. Two young men from Belyuen Community, which is also located on the Cox Pen, Aiden and Jayden, supported the young men attending the program.

Both young men work at the Belyuen Community school, are keen hunters and positive role models - supporting, guiding and teaching our young men to hunt, fish and crab in the mangroves. As our program develops we hope to include more Aboriginal community members from the Cox Pen. 

Josh Keating who is a resident of Wagait Beach on the Cox Pen joined us, facilitating the day - he is a mentor and qualified teacher and has an extensive background working with traumatized young people.

The day started out with a ferry ride from Cullen Bay to Mandorah. The kids loved it! We then drove on a dirt road, through the dunes to an isolated part of the mangrove beach to ‘One Tree’. After a beautiful call to country from Lorraine, the boys went off crabbing in the mangroves and the girls sat under ‘One Tree’ and learnt to weave with Lorraine.

We cooked up the crabs, long bums (mangrove shellfish) and periwinkles that the crew had hunted and collected, along with some bush sausages and had a well-earned feast under One Tree!

We all piled into the utes and 4WD’s and headed back to the ferry at Mandorah Jetty to make the journey back to Darwin. It was so great to see our young people in their element!

The feedback I have had from the young people has been marvelous and they said they can’t wait until the next cultural day!