Kimberley Girl is a personal development, work readiness and community engagement programmme for young indigenous women that is sponsored by local government and the regional business community in the Kimberly region of Western Austtralia. Remarkably effective in its results, its been running for 11 years, and produced scores of young graduates. It’s he brainchild of Kira Fong, CEO of Goolarri Media Enterprises who has also started Pilbara Girl.
Workshops, held in Broome, are followed by high-profile community events where participants talk about their aspirations and dreams live on stage. They are interviewed by a panel of judges, and participate in a fashion parade too. But, according to creator and administrator Kira, it’s not a beauty pageant.
With workshops focussing on personal wellbeing and mental health, participants leave the programme better equipped to shun domestic violence, negative relationships and drug and alcohol abuse and to make more positive life choices.
The graduates, hailing from such areas as Halls Creek, Kununarra, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing and the even more remote areas of Jarlmadangah, Mt Barnett and Yakanarra become the new generation of positive young role models, encouraging their peers to continue their education, seek employment and actively engage in community life.
Winner of the Kimberly Girl Project 2014, Broome woman Nicola Tores has had a remarkably positive effect on other young women living in Broome and the Kimberly region of Australia. Nicola has been extensively engaged in volunteer work in the community. In her own words:
“I can’t remember exactly how I heard about Kimberley Girl, I think it was by word of mouth. Girls around my age were talking about the program with excitement so I was aware of the Kimberley Girl program and knew it was an annual event.
Kimberley Girl has helped me with confidence building and especially networking within the community. Kimberley Girl taught me I can achieve anything, that my mind is very powerful and that I need to always believe in myself.
Last year I was struggling with anxiety stemming from social issues amongst my peers, I was also experiencing homelessness from recently escaping a domestic violence relationship in Cairns with my two youngest children. Kimberley Girl workshops have a very strong positive impact influencing healthy lifestyles and well-being of young indigenous girls. It provides us with tools, support and mountain loads of confidence. Over the two weeks of the Kimberley Girl programme, the workshops bring all the participants very close together. It is one of the most beautiful experiences.
Truly it’s life changing. Not only do we overcome our own battles and transform, we provide a positive image to other girls from our communities. To be able to have the confidence to do this is empowering not only to ourselves but the outer community as a whole.
I think everything provided in the workshops are valuable lessons that will stick with us forever and while it is a lot of hard work its also tons of fun! Kimberley Girl allows participants to take pride in their cultural background and who they are as an individual, which is an achievement in itself.”
Kimberley Girl has definitely made an impact on the way I see life. Knowing I have a direct impact on my children’s life and views and the amount of attention I’ve gained within the community, I focus on creating a positive image on a wider scale. Holding the title for Kimberley Girl 2014, I want to be able to give back to the community as much as I can. I aim to participate in as many community events as possible and love spending time with youth in our community when given the opportunity.
My participation in Kimberley Girl has given me the opportunity to share my story and speak on behalf of other indigenous youth who have had similar experiences as myself. Taking pride in my achievements means being able to share my experiences and encourage youth to make positive healthy choices and by believing in yourself and abilities you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to. I have been involved with the high school girls during their deadly divas day and I have offered my time to volunteer at youth organisations in town.
I think the most important message for society is that youth are youth whether they are indigenous or not. They are all vulnerable to their surroundings and need love, encouragement and support.
I also think it’s important that our elders continue to share their knowledge and stories and to help maintain Aboriginal culture and beliefs. In doing so this helps our youth gain a strong sense of identity which I think is are very valuable and necessary part of our journey.”
Congratulations Nicola and all the graduates of Kimberly Girl. For more information about Kimberly Girl or Pilbara Girl, please contact Goolarri Media Enterprises 08 9195 5333.