May 28, 2015
DARWIN, May 28 AAP – In a brightly graffitied Alice Springs skate park, a young hip-hop crew rap and bop confidently as a camera circles them.
But these aren’t professional musicians – they’re young people in rehab, using music to express what they’ve learnt about interacting with the law.
The Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service has teamed up with the BushMob rehabilitation centre and Desert Pea Media to run workshops all of this week for the kids receiving treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.
The film, Know Your Rights, uses songwriting and filmmaking to teach young people how to interact with police and respect others in what can be a tense and racist environment, says Desert Pea Media creative director Toby Finlayson.
“The kids are totally amazing,” Mr Finlayson told AAP.
“They’re totally engaged. It’s full energy up here.
“It’s a language young people speak already, this genre of music, so it becomes a non-confrontational way for them to talk about what’s going on in their lives and what they want to see changed, and challenging a lot of things that are quite emotional and difficult.”
Jai, 14, travelled to Alice Springs from Darwin three weeks ago to receive treatment at the centre and was elated to be shooting on set.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s like a once in a lifetime thing.
He said he liked BushMob so much that he would ask to stay for another month when his 16 weeks were up.
“A lot of us here have been stealing, or break and entries or taking drugs or something else, you know, and we’ve all come here to sort ourselves out,” he said.
“It’s really good here because you learn a lot, too; they take you out to the bush.”
BushMob founder Will MacGregor started the centre 16 years ago to combat petrol sniffing, alcohol and marijuana abuse.
He says there are not enough services for young people with addiction problems outside hospital-linked clinical treatments.
“The idea was to get these young people out bush for a day or two days a week, whatever we can afford, be on country, talk about use in a non-program way, a more family way,” he said.
“(We) eat good food, have a swim, go for a walk and remember there’s another choice in life than lying around sniffing.”
The clinic has 16 beds, one or two of which are always taken by a young person from interstate seeking treatment.
Mr MacGregor said young people took risks and made poor choices while going through adolescence and the program was “about being around reasonable adults who can give you their perspective on what you may or may not be doing with your life”.
He said they helped the kids clear their heads to then examine the decisions they had made, and they did it from a local Aboriginal perspective.
BushMob runs a horse culture healing program directed by two initiated Arrernte men, who take the patients on regular rides along the Todd River for barbecues and a chat.
“It’s pretty much, ‘F*** you, I’m not getting on that horse’, to, ‘I’d like to have a go’, and then, ‘I’d like to have my photo taken’,” Mr MacGregor said.
“It’s about being around something bigger and stronger than yourself and if you can have some kind of understanding of that animal, then you’ll understand yourself better.”
Late in June, the kids will be taken on a two-week horse-riding camp on country with elders at the Santa Teresa community, about 100 kilometres away.
Jai, for one, can’t wait.
“I’ve always wanted to do that sort of stuff,” he said.
“I reckon it’ll be real fun, just riding horses day after day.
“It’s real nice, just to get away from the usual stuff.”