Big Dreams 2023 Program Update

Date: December 11th, 2023

The Big Dreams Program Update

Buldau Yioohgen, which means 'Big Dreams' in Woiwurrung language, continues to be a cornerstone program within Anglicare Victoria, empowering First Nations youth through immersive experiences and professional development opportunities. The program bridges the gap to access organisations, jobs, and environments that may have otherwise been challenging to reach, ultimately enhancing the prospects of sustainable employment.

Since its inception in 2015, the Lyone Foundation's unwavering commitment has provided vital operational support, surpassing $250,000 in funding. This invaluable support has bolstered program staffing, operational costs, and crucial activities, including the ever inspiring 'Heal on Country' events. Among them, the 'Hike to Higher Education' on Maria Island, Tasmania, and the culturally enriching Lake Mungo Camp in New South Wales, home to Australia's oldest human remains.

Australian Open Culture on Court

Building upon previous successes, Lyone Foundation's support enabled 35 First Nations children and their families to participate in the inaugural First Nations Day at the Australian Open 2022 in Melbourne. Notably, two young participants from the Leadership Academy made history by becoming ball kids at the Australian Open.

The program's impact continues to resonate, with Tennis Victoria hosting 150 participants from the Buldau Yioohgen Culture at the Australian Open 2023, offering culturally grounded sporting opportunities. Some Deadly performances from Indigenous Hip Hop Projects and Culture Evolves were held, and Fire Services Victoria came along with one of their fire trucks to explore. Additionally, 14 ball kids from the Leadership Academy were secured roles at this prestigious global event.

Northern Territory Experience

Over 160 young First Australian tennis players attended the fourth National Indigenous Tennis Carnival (NITC) on Larrakia Country in August 2023. Led by 14-tine Grand Slam Champion and tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley, participants from across Australia combined tennis with cultural immersion and community-building. Evonne says “it’s not just about tennis but about learning from each other and learning from each other’s country”. The event featured general participation and competitive streams.

The Buldau Yioohgen team partnered with Tennis Victoria, allowing 11 aspiring tennis players to engage with the NITC. Off the court, cultural activities, including basket weaving and spear throwing, enriched the experience. Australian Open ball kid trials and cultural learning further enriched the event, fostering a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture and heritage.

Lake Mungo

Lake Mungo Cultural Camp holds profound significance for Buldau Yioohgen, offering a spiritual connection to Barkandji, Paakantyi, Mutthi Mutthi, and Ngiyampaa peoples. This ancient landscape, once home to the world's oldest culture, features striking formations and rolling sand dunes.

The week-long camp, guided by Aunty Kellie Hunter, Uncle Les Corlett, and Elder Uncle Ron Murray, provides an on-country experience that gives young people in Buldau Yioohgen the opportunity to connect with their identity and culture in this sacred place. Activities like fishing, astronomy, and campfires build resilience and camaraderie. Recent reburials of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady deepen the connection.

Despite personal challenges, nine young participants from various backgrounds celebrated cultural experiences, including dancing and drumming, with gratitude for the privilege of attending the Leadership Academy.

Program Snapshot

  • 150 Aboriginal young people - Culture on Court, Melbourne Park.
  • 9 young people - Northern Experience, in the Northern Territory, Darwin.
  • 9 young people - Lake Mungo Camp.
  • 9 young people - Southern Experience, Narrm event in Melbourne.

Additional Activities:

  • 60 - school holiday outdoor activities.
  • 9 young people - 1:1 individualised teaching by respected Elders.
  • 8 young people - Buldau Yioohgen’s art workshops – Gippsland.
  • 2 Yarning circles held (1 x National Indigenous Tennis Carnival and 1 x Lake Mungo).
  • 10 people attended financial literacy training (ANZ MoneyMinded), with career Information support which includes resume writing, interview techniques and online resources, building financial skills, knowledge and confidence in a range of topics from saving, and spending, money planning and everyday banking options.

Cultural Surveys

First Australian participants in Buldau Yiooghen completed pre- and post-cultural surveys, a ground-breaking initiative. The results were exceptionally encouraging, with 67% of First Australian young people experiencing increased cultural connectedness, as evident in higher post-survey scores.

Remarkably, all clients either improved or maintained their high scores when comparing pre- and post-survey assessments. The average post-survey score reached an impressive 4.55 out of a maximum of 5, indicating a strong sense of cultural connection within the group. These surveys were exclusively administered to young people engaged in intensive, on-country experiences, with a total of nine participants taking part.

Career Pathways and Education Outcomes:

Feedback from program participants highlights its transformative impact. One individual initially felt shy and scared but later expressed a profound sense of connection with their culture and community, citing the program's role in this transformation. Another participant shared how the program helped them rediscover themselves, regain confidence, and embrace their cultural heritage, with mention of the significance of Smoking Ceremonies. Tarryn, a 17-year-old facing numerous challenges, experienced positive changes through the program. He now feels more connected to his culture, thanks to activities like astronomy and dreamtime stories, and has benefited from positive role models. The program continues to offer support, fostering personal growth and cultural connection.