Intervention Initiative Helps African-Australian Youths Reconnect With Their Community and Culture

Intervention Initiative Helps African-Australian Youths Reconnect With Their Community and Culture

Established last year by the Queensland African Communities Council, the African Youth Support Council has been actively involved in reconnecting African-Australian youths with their culture and communities through mentoring, life skill workshops and more.

The African Youth Centre opened in Redbank Plains in 2021 as an intervention and rehabilitation initiative to help disengaged African Australian youth in detention. Their program has since expanded to include youths in schools to help mitigate the rising number of juvenile offenders.

By providing an environment where youths feel a sense of belonging without feeling judged and discover their own identity and re-engage with their culture, the program hopes to build trust for service providers and divert them from a life of crime. 

“When I came to the leadership of the Queensland African Communities Council, issues I identified with young people were around crime, disengagement and issues around parenting and engagement with the schools and the system in general,” Beny Bol, President of the Queensland African Communities Council said.

He said that being born or coming to Australia at a very young age, many of these African-Australian youths are often confused and don’t feel connected to their culture and Australian community thus they engage in antisocial behaviour.

“I realised most of our young people in the African community are going through an identity crisis, because they probably were born in Australia, or came here when they were relatively younger but have a different cultural background, so in order to come up with a strategy to solve these problems, you have to think of something that is different from what you would deliver with a mainstream service program.

At the heart of the program are youth mentors who run intervention and rehabilitation programs across Ipswich, Brisbane and Logan. Mr Bol believes that a way to help solve social issues that youths face is to empower them and put them into leadership roles.

“I identified some leading young people in our community and I challenged them. “ I said, ‘This is your problem, so you must take the lead, and I will advocate for you, support you and help you look for the resources’.

“We observed young people would listen to other young people, so the best way to turn things around and engage them was to empower them in these leadership roles.”

QACC is already eyeing an expansion and is seeking funding to establish two new centres to help more African-Australian youths who are at risk or who are already engaged in antisocial and criminal behaviour.