National Reconciliation Week runs from May 27 to June 3. This year’s theme ‘Our History, Our Story, Our Future’ focuses on historical acceptance and reflects on the fact that the journey to reconciliation forms a significant part of Australia’s history so it is important that we keep reconciliation in our thoughts as we move forward as a nation. Youth Off The Streets has continually taken an active approach when responding to the needs of our Aboriginal communities, particularly the young people. Our approach has always been about identifying gaps in services available to Aboriginal youth, and establishing the support services that fulfil their needs so we can build a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Unfortunately, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population still suffer from a lower life expectancy, lower rates of literacy and general health and are over-represented in the justice system when compared to the non-indigenous population. We are trying to close this gap by working in partnership with Aboriginal Elders, local service providers, government departments and community members with the aim of continual and lasting improvement in outcomes for the young people, families and communities involved. This holistic approach ensures that we equip members of the community with the tools to create positive change. Our vision is for all communities to work within a spirit of co-operation; accepting diversity, acknowledging strengths and supporting each other. It’s now up to everyone to come together and continue to work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander equality. Committing extra resources to closing the gap as well as coming together as a nation to recognise a group of people is an achievable goal for next year’s National Reconciliation Week.
Father Chris Riley, CEO and Founder at Youth Off The Streets