This very successful program was run for the second year by HARDA & Auburn Sports Club and supported by the Attorney-General’s Building Community Resilience Program. It encouraged young Somali participants to develop their leadership skills through sporting and community activities. The activities were supported by the local community, youth centres, law enforcement agencies and locally based organisations.
This program, funded by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department and actively supported by the Australian Federal Police, was one of most successful that HARDA has ever conducted. Much of the credit for this must go to HARDA’s former President, Mohammed Omar, whose brain child it was. He designed it, wrote the submission for funding and took the lead role in it. It was run in both 2011/12 and 2012/13.
Under his leadership there was considerable enthusiasm about the program. Steering committee members included Football United Community Engagement Coordinator Assmaah Helal; FAIR President Kuranda Seyit; and the Australian Somalia Community Association (ASCA) President Mohamed Ibrahim.
Many of the young people who were recruited to join the program had been identified confidentially as being ‘at risk’ by members of the Somali and CALD communities, youth centres, school counsellors, law enforcement agencies and the juvenile justice network in the Western and South-Western suburbs of Sydney. The definition of ‘at risk’ included young people who had become alienated from school, families, their own and wider communities and who were disengaged to the extent that they might be prone to intolerant or extremist views or ideologies.
Mentors were recruited from the Somali and broader community networks, trained and allocated to Somali and CALD youth on a one-on-one basis for periods varying from six to nine months. In November and December the thirty five participants also attended workshops and participated in discussions on topics which ranged from law enforcement (conducted by Leanne Raiser from the Australian Federal Police) to workshops on resume/CV writing and job interview skills. Workshops were conducted in a culturally sensitive environment with the paramount objective of demonstrating to Somali and CALD youth that they can be supported to gain pride and satisfaction from participation within the wider society.
The highlight of the program in 2012 annd 2013 was the Melbourne trip. Some twenty Somali youths, accompanied by their mentors, travelled south in a chartered bus and were accommodated for seven days over the Christmas-New Year period at Urban Camp Melbourne. During the week the Sydney Stars Somali team competed in the grandly titled ‘African Cup of Nations’ (a local version of the real thing which is the premier football tournament in Africa).
During the second half of January Football United conducted coaching clinics for the soccer enthusiasts and post camp workshops were held from Jan to April. In 2013 these included Law enforcement Issues, Healthy Living and Leadership workshops.
To wrap up the 2012/2013 HARDA Somali Youth Outreach Program, a 3 day Family Fun Weekend and Community Cup Soccer Tournament was conducted in conjunction with Auburn Sports Club. It was an 8 team competition with three coming from interstate (2 from Melbourne and 1 from Brisbane). Over 300 people attended each of the days. There were jumping castles for the kids, mother’s picnic area and free sausage sizzle for all attendees. The guest appearance of Yusuf Hersi and Tarek Elriche from the Western Sydney Wanderers was the highlight of the three days. Both players spent around 2 hours talking to the young people and answering questions about the road to success. The eventual winners of the 3 day competition were the Auburn Sports Club team who defeated the Sydney Somali Youth 3-2 in a thrilling final. All in all, a wonderful 3 days were had by all.
A final evaluation activity completed the formal program in 2013 which wrapped up with a barbecue and catch up session in May.