The mighty Wadeye Magic a boost for remote Northern Territory community
An independent evaluation of a popular AFL program in Wadeye has found that it is helping to build a stronger, more cohesive community, with early signs of improved engagement with school attendance, training and employment.
The AFL Remote Regional Development Program in Wadeye was established five years ago to provide young Aboriginal people with structured AFL programs in response to an escalation in anti-social behaviour and gang violence.
The program is funded by Australian Government youth program grants totalling about $600,000, as well as support from corporate and local sponsors. It provides training, employment and leadership opportunities and is currently running a senior competition, under 15s and women’s competitions.
A component of the funding is part of the successful Australian Government Youth In Communities Program, focused onkeeping young people connected with school or training, helping prevent youth suicide, self-harm, and alcohol and substance abuse.
As part of Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory the Australian Government has committed an additional ten years of funding for the Youth In Communities Program, supporting over 30 remote communities.
One of the key successes of this program has been the recent formation of an elite football team, Wadeye Magic, which is part of the Northern Territory Football League. This was supported by a one off Australian Government funding boost of $100, 000 to help Wadeye Magic enter the competition.
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said the success of Wadeye Magic has helped people feel proud of their community..
“The success of Wadeye Magic in the Northern Territory Football League competition has been a real boost for the community and provides young up and coming footballers with something to aspire to,” Ms Macklin said.
The evaluation found that 98 per cent of participants agreed that the program has strengthened community cohesion by providing an activity that people are good at and encouraging people to come together.
The program has a strong link with education, training or work. In the junior competitions, students must attend school on the day of the game if they want to participate, and all Wadeye Magic players have to be in education, training or work to be eligible for selection to play in the Northern Territory Football League competition.
The evaluation found that 86 per cent of participants agreed that the program ‘improves school attendance and/or training’, and 95 per cent of participants agreed that the program ‘helps players to be involved in paid work or training’.
Encouragingly, at the time of the evaluation, 48 out of 50 Wadeye Magic players were engaged in some type of training, education or paid work.
“These early signs of improved engagement in education, training or work are encouraging.”
“We now want to make sure that this program is as effective at helping get children to school so they can get the best education possible.” Ms Macklin said.
Following this evaluation, the ‘no school, no play’ rule is being more strictly enforced.
The Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, said Wadeye Magic was a significant achievement for Wadeye.
“Football is an incredibly powerful tool in inspiring and motivating young Aboriginal people in remote communities.”
“I know the community is very proud of Wadeye Magic and how well they have already done in the competition,” Mr Snowdon said.
Senator Trish Crossin said, “The program has also been attributed with improving the health and behaviour of players, and teaching leadership skills.
“Ninety-eight per cent of people surveyed agreed that the program provides leadership skills for local men in football and instils discipline, respect and resilience – skills which are transferable to life outside sport. And 94 per cent of participants agreed the program ‘encourages healthy living and good behaviours’.”
Wadeye is the biggest community in the Northern Territory with a population of about 2800 people. One hundred and thirty-three people took part in this evaluation.
The evaluation can be found at: http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/our-responsibilities/indigenous-australians/publications-articles/evaluation-research/evaluation-of-the-afl-remote-regional-development-program-wadeye
A video about Wadeye Magic can be found at: http://www.indigenous.gov.au/stories/sport/wadeye-magic/