Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation

Mudyala offers culturally rich holiday programs that give Indigenous children a sense of pride and belonging.

Grant Type
Community
Focus
Social Cohesion
Date
2023
Partner

Mudyala was founded in 2019 to connect young people and their families with education in a culturally appropriate way. It provides activities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in the Clarence Valley region.

The grassroots organisation, was conceived by Aneika Kapeen, a local Indigenous woman. She saw a lack of funding for local youth to engage in activities that would enrich them and develop a sense of identity. She noticed a high number of children ‘at risk’ or getting involved with drugs or petty theft during school holidays.

Crucially, she wanted to pass on cultural knowledge and ensure traditions that had lasted thousands of years didn’t get forgotten. “When I was a kid, our dad would take us out on country. Now it’s very hard to get the kids away from the phone and computers. It’s getting harder to maintain our culture and we’re trying to push to keep it alive,” Aneika explains.

Mudyala received funding from the Bennelong Foundation in 2021 to establish holiday programs, called Skills for Life, which would connect kids to culture and keep them engaged. The funding was used to support local Aboriginal facilitators, source resources, and provide catering and venue hire.

The focus of the organisation is on vulnerable children and youth from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families who are facing financial or social challenges. Mudyala’s programs uplift participants and build cultural pride through sharing stories, art, and dance. Elders and community members share their traditional knowledge, passing on language, stories, and cultural practices to keep them alive.

They offer a mix of activities, Aneika says, “We use wood burners, so kids can design on wood... We also take them out on country to do fishing and they collect oysters, getting the pipis, and doing the worming.”

The team at Mudyala ensure the activities include a range of ways for children to engage. “Through cultural activities, we keep the stories and the song lines going. But we don’t want to make it just about culture either. Some days we’ll delve into the cultural side, and on others, we’ll do a surf day. This gives the kids a break from learning and allows them to just be themselves,” says Aneika.

In only a few years, the organisation has already had a profound and positive influence on the local community. Since Mudyala began running programs, the rate of petty theft and drug use has reduced, because youth are engaged in constructive activities during school holidays.

Aneika reflects on the transformation she’s seen in the participants: “The change now is in self-identity. They’re more comfortable and at ease than they were a few years ago. The self-awareness is there, the cultural identity is stronger. That pride and that belief is there, knowing people are advocating for you, having your back.”

The funding from the Bennelong Foundation paved the way for Mudyala to grow and engage more people. And now, children who have attended their programs are being nurtured as youth leaders. Several boys aged 15-17 have stepped into leadership roles, modelling respectful behaviour for the younger children. Those same children who struggle at school have found a sense of belonging within their community.

The program has expanded into nearby areas, including communities in the Richmond Valley and Lismore City area.

Aneika’s proud of the successes they’ve been able to achieve in a relatively short space of time: “We've gone from something that's been real small to being able to make an actual impact and change kids' lives.”

Impactful results

The Benefit

Mudyala has enabled young indigenous people to participate in education opportunities.

Outcome

More opportunities for young indigenous people to learn, work and connect with others.

Outcome

More opportunities for young indigenous people and to have a voice.

We are seeing youth take more pride and confidence in who they are… The self-awareness is there, the cultural identity is stronger.

Aneika Kapeen

CEO Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation

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