VITAL PROGRAM: NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos (right) visited Lismore City Council Chambers yesterday to meet with Randal Ross (left) and Tommy Powell from Red Dust Healing.
VITAL PROGRAM: NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos (right) visited Lismore City Council Chambers yesterday to meet with Randal Ross (left) and Tommy Powell from Red Dust Healing. Cathy Adams

Healing indigenous youth

IT TAKES just four days for the staff at the Red Dust Healing program to transform an angry young man into someone with respect for others and respect for himself.

Lismore City Council is the first council in New South Wales to embrace the program, which works to help Aboriginal boys and young men identified as being at risk of becoming involved in crime.

Yesterday NSW Attorney General John Hatzistergos travelled to Lismore to hand Mayor Jenny Dowell a cheque for $48,000 to run a series of Red Dust Healing camps in the Northern Rivers.

The council auspiced the application for a share of the $1.6 million available under the Department of Justice and Attorney General's Safe Communities Program. It will be managed locally by Community Connections North Coast.

Mr Hatzistergos praised Lismore City Council for recognising its role in crime prevention.

“We took away the identity of indigenous people and in hindsight we recognise what a tremendous tragedy that was,” Mr Hatzistergos said.

“This program will instil young people with cultural pride and knowledge, respect for others and the role they can play in the community.”

Red Dust Healing founder Tommy Powell, a Wiradjuri man from Narromine, said the program had already helped 600 young people in other states.

“It has been a privilege and pleasure to see young people get so much out of it. It proves what we can achieve when we put our heads and hearts together,” Mr Powell said.

Red Dust Healing coordinator Bernie Cottom said the program was vital to the Northern Rivers, where the indigenous population was increasing.

“A lot of local people need this program because family life has been so broken down. We need to break the cycle of incarceration and crime,” he said.

“There is no point lecturing kids and telling them they are bad. When you show them respect, they show it back.”



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