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Social issues

Community Crusaders: Halo Leadership Program

– by David Churack

 The ‘Halo Leadership Program’ refers to a career and personal development agency focusing on assisting Aboriginal young people and their families. ‘Halo’ itself refers to the goals of the organisation in creating:

Hope for indigenous young people and their families, giving these young indigenous individuals Aspirations (be they social or career in nature), as well as providing them with Leadership Opportunities so they are able to self-actualise and achieve their potential (and so they exist as role models to future generations of the indigenous youth).

Halo’s unique approach to assisting young people primarily involves positive psychology and a peer-mentoring system. This system focuses not on the ‘problems’ that require fixing, but rather on the possibilities open to young indigenous people and the opportunities for significant change or self-actualisation.

A large part of Halo is the day program which offers young indigenous Australians many forms of social assistance and education, including literacy and numeracy support, employability and social skills training, a fitness program, and support in attaining a drivers’ license. Perhaps the most important facet of this program, however, is the participation of respected members of the Noongar community, who provide a sense of cultural knowledge and belonging to the indigenous youth present.

Halo also provides motivational and training workshops directed not only at young people, but also providing those who work with these groups of children with practical tips and solutions on how to successfully reach workplace goals.

The founder of Halo, Lee-Anne Smith, describes the benefits of the Halo program, “Halo gives young people the opportunity to take part in programs that give them a sense of purpose, something they believe in. It allows them to not only take control of their own lives but to work together to become part of something bigger. Participants at Halo prove year after year they are not only affecting positive change in their own lives they really are changing the world for others.”

Australian society has an obviously less than ideal historical relationship with its indigenous peoples, and this is reflected in the high number of indigenous young people incarcerated in youth detention centres across the nation – the detention rate for indigenous juveniles is 397 per 100,000, over 28 times the rate for non-indigenous juveniles.

HALO seeks to address this issue by providing the above services to divert indigenous young people away from criminal activities and placement in detention centres. These activities should be seen as not only socially generous or even just, but as an obligation that the historically poor treatment of indigenous people within Australian society has created.

 The agency acts to help young indigenous Australians improve in social, financial, physical, cultural as well as emotional areas, and in so doing, changes the social realities for future generations of young indigenous people.

 For further enquiries, or to support this cause, please visit: http://www.haloleadership.com/

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