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By Melina Scarfo
14 August 2022

“I feel more confident, and there is more opportunity for me,” says Dakota, from Woorabinda, in Central Queensland. 

For First Nations youth living in remote Australia, the transition from school to further education and employment is a lot more challenging to navigate than their peers in the city. Systemic, structural and geographical barriers mean it is harder to get the necessary identification, skills and training. 

But with the right support that is culturally safe, young people can flourish and reach their goals. 

Dakota has already gained an impressive list of achievements, thanks to a new initiative by the Community Spirit Foundation and supported by UNICEF Australia.  

map of woorabinda and image of dakota
Dakota (left) and Assarn who were both supported through the the Community Spirits Foundation's Sprints Passport Program.
© UNICEF Australia/2022/ O’Dell

The Sprints Passport Program provides 15 to 18-year-olds with access to short education and training courses. This provides them with skills and certifications that support them transition into employment. The program also helps build their confidence and resilience. 

Dakota was mentored and supported by the Community Spirit Foundation team  while she finished a barista course and as she started a Certificate III in Sport and Recreation.  

"I was really nervous, but they were there to encourage me. They told me I can do anything."

Dakota, Sprints Program

Dakota has her sights set on being a youth worker and recently applied for a traineeship at the local youth club. She was also selected to play for the Indigenous Rugby Sevens team. 

The first step to supporting young people in remote communities is to help them obtain personal identification documents, such as birth certificates, driver's licences and Unique Student Identifiers (USI), which they need to enrol in registered training courses and secure employment. 

Putting young First Nations People in the driver's seat

Community Spirit Foundation is supporting First Nations young people in Woorabinda to gain driving credentials, in partnership with UNICEF Australia.

Woorabinda Elder Anthony Henry says the program is uniting the community.  

“We have to build the pathways for our grandchildren,” says Anthony. “This program puts a fire in their belly.”  

Over the past 12 months, the program has supported 30 young people to gain identification, further education and certifications, helping them transition from school to the workforce. 

Empowered with knowledge, young people like Dakota can build a future for themselves and their families of their making.