Group of young people from the Kimberley in a project workshop

We engaged with the Kimberley community to understand the needs of young people

Our Work | Case Study

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Binarri-binyja yarrawoo (BBY) is the backbone organisation for Empowered Communities East Kimberley (ECEK), a collective impact initiative for Aboriginal-led reform in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The Wyndham community identified the need for youth spaces

Across the Kimberley, young people may face persistent and complex challenges. What may work for young people in Perth does not always work for young people in the Kimberley. So many government and supporting organisations across WA are changing how they support youth to empower local communities to define their aspirations and create solutions that work for them.

Wyndham, the Kimberley’s oldest town, has a strong sense of community with local families who have a deep connection to their diverse cultural identities. More than a third of Wyndham’s population is aged under 25.

BBY facilitates joint decision-making with the Wyndham community as part of its Regional Development Agenda. The Wyndham community identified youth safe spaces as an opportunity to positively respond to challenges facing young people in Wyndham. BBY engaged us to work alongside it and the Wyndham community to develop further ideas about what initiatives to support youth safe spaces could look like, based on what matters most to the young people of Wyndham.

We engaged with young people, families, schools and support services

Supporting the wellbeing of young people requires deep understanding of place and the aspirations of local young people. We worked with a Project Reference Group mostly based in Wyndham. This group identified ways to hear the thoughts of local young people, their families and communities through formal activities like school visits and workshops as well as informal opportunities like footy training for the Wyndham Crocs. This group also helped to make sure we had the right cultural protocols in place so stakeholders would feel comfortable talking to us.

Our team spent three and a half days in Wyndham, listening to and recording the thoughts of community members, through yarns, structured workshops and drawing. Through our discussions with young people in community, it became clear that youth safe spaces was not just about creating a safe physical space; it was also about uplifting families and local services, and creating genuine training pathways for young people aligned to their interests. During our consultation, the Wyndham community identified six initiatives to address the local priority of youth safe spaces.

Wyndham community consultations
Wyndham community consultations
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Our team brought cultural understanding and trust for meaningful collaboration

We involved a highly experienced First Nations woman to lead engagements, fostering cultural understanding, respect and effective collaboration with the community.

As a woman from the Kimberley region, she brought valuable insights into the nuances of the local culture, traditions and perspectives, enhancing the initiative’s authenticity and avoiding cultural insensitivity. She acted as a bridge to facilitate safe discussions and build trust between the project team and the community.

Our team approached consultation with sensitivity, acknowledging and incorporating Indigenous values, and created meaningful and sustainable partnerships that respect the unique heritage of First Nations peoples.

The result was a final report that identified priority community initiatives.

SUPPORTING THOSE WHO SUPPORT YOUNG PEOPLE
Supporting families: Provide case-management-style supports to help young people and their families to engage with services and supports.
Strengthening services: Provide training programs and support to build service skills for staff working at Wyndham-based service providers. 

YOUNG PEOPLE’S PATHWAYS AND ASPIRATIONS 
Targeted training: Identify and deliver training in Wyndham in areas relevant to local businesses and employment pathways.
Community-led activity: Empower the community to organise and run events that offer positive role models for young people. 

A PLACE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE 
Multipurpose facility: A safe space for young people and their families to connect with culture, community and other support services.
On-country connection: Delivery of on-country trips and facilitated engagement between young people and community elders.
SUPPORTING THOSE WHO SUPPORT YOUNG PEOPLE
Supporting families: Provide case-management-style supports to help young people and their families to engage with services and supports.
Strengthening services: Provide training programs and support to build service skills for staff working at Wyndham-based service providers. 

YOUNG PEOPLE’S PATHWAYS AND ASPIRATIONS 
Targeted training: Identify and deliver training in Wyndham in areas relevant to local businesses and employment pathways.
Community-led activity: Empower the community to organise and run events that offer positive role models for young people. 

A PLACE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE 
Multipurpose facility: A safe space for young people and their families to connect with culture, community and other support services.
On-country connection: Delivery of on-country trips and facilitated engagement between young people and community elders.
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The project was a true development opportunity – for us and our client

At a project level we thought carefully about our role, and how we could provide value – particularly as a non-Indigenous, non-local consulting firm.

In discussion with BBY, we put working in partnership at the centre of how we delivered work. We worked closely with the BBY team, including joint responsibility for organisation and delivery of engagement activities – so we could learn from each other. This included sharing ideas about stakeholder planning, project management and report writing for government audiences.

At a community level, many First Nations people are justifiably sceptical about engagement with external groups. They experience consultation fatigue, needing to tell their story and sharing their ideas but with nothing changing on the ground. By delivering this work in partnership with BBY, the consultation and discussion that started during this project would continue because of BBY’s role and connection to the local community.

Further work by BBY is now underway to unlock additional funding for Wyndham to implement these priority community initiatives.

What you can learn from the Wyndam Safe Places initiative

Prioritising respectful community engagement can lead to tailored, impactful solutions.

Empowering clients with skills and insights fosters sustainable change.

Effective storytelling and advocacy can influence government stakeholders positively.