Mirror Mirror... youth reflect impact of drugs & alcohol

Roper Gulf residents at Jilkminggan

From the Gulf of Carpentaria to west of the Stuart Highway, from just north of Elliot to the southern edge of Kakadu, from the Queensland border to 100 km from the East Arnhem Coast, the Roper Gulf Region stretches over 186,000 square kilometres across the Northern Territory.

The remote community of Jilkminggan has just 280 residents, with a median age of 18 years old. It is a closed community located an hour and a half by road from the major regional centre of Katherine, and it is serviced by the Roper Gulf Regional Council.

Jilkminggan faces many of the challenges inherent in remote Indigenous communities, including drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, depression and suicide. The Roper Gulf Regional Council worked in partnership with the Indigenous Community Volunteer organisation to adopt and adapt the 2014 Heywire Youth Innovation Grant project ‘Mirror Mirror on the Screen’ in a bid to increase awareness of the effects of drugs and alcohol abuse within families on young people.

With the help of a drama teacher, local youth aged 10-15 were involved in scripting, acting and producing a play that delivered a powerful message to the families and communities on the effect these systemic problems have on the young people of Jilkminggan. Starring local youth, the production confronted the community with a wide range of issues that the young people had identified as having a serious impact on their family life.

After working with the specialist drama teachers to script their play and develop their acting skills, the young cast had help from the local Council and community groups to build a stage, props and backdrops, funded via a Heywire Youth Innovation Grant for $8,074. The grant also funded the purchase of costumes and a sound system.

‘Mirror Mirror’ premiered at a series of drug and alcohol-free events that attracted wide community participation and acclaim. From all accounts, the youth succeeded in their mission to deliver a powerful performance that reflected the impact the actions of the adults have on the younger mob, and how the young people want to build a strong community with a healthy lifestyle.

The play gave the children of Jilkminggan a voice to have their say. Although the play presented the youth with a few challenges when it came to acting and public speaking, through perseverance and belief they were able to deliver a very strong message.

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