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Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, professional learning

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, professional learning

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, post release

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, post release

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, Frank Baxter shield project

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, Frank Baxter shield project

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, Frank Baxter shield project

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, Frank Baxter shield project

Djamu Youth Justice
Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, Reiby

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, Reiby

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, Reiby

Djamu Youth Justice

Djamu, Youth Justice, Reiby

Djamu Youth Justice offers a unique project-based model that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the New South Wales Youth Justice System. The program promotes an appreciation for the diversity of Aboriginal art practice in the southeast region, provides opportunities to connect with culture within confined environments, and increases self-esteem and self-discipline, heightening the chances of successful rehabilitation.

  • History and Development

    Since 2017, Djamu Youth Justice has been delivered at Reiby Youth Justice Centre (Campbelltown) and Cobham Youth Justice Centre (St Marys). Responsive to transient youth populations and contextual policies and procedures, the program has been structured to provide a series of artmaking experiences that can be completed in 2 x 1.5-hour sessions. Contributing artists have included Julie Freeman, Andrew Snelgar and James Tylor.

    Ongoing benefactor support has provided the opportunity to shift delivery from a series of one-day workshops to a sustained project-based model. In 2020, the Gallery collaborated with James Tylor to develop a 15-week Shield Project to be delivered at Frank Baxter Youth Justice Centre (Kariong). To address the transient youth population and provide sustained engagement, the collaborative nature of the Shield Project allowed participants to engage, regardless of what stage they entered the project. Working also with varying artist availability, the sustained structure only required James Tylor to deliver the initial, mid-point and concluding sessions, with the remainder facilitated by the Gallery’s Indigenous Educators.

    To further support participants understanding, the Gallery produced a film project shot in Numeralla, which explored the materials and processes involved in the lead up to the 15-week Shield Project. Content developed participants understanding of the selection of timbers appropriate to the type of shield being produced, sustainable methods of collection to ensure minimal environmental impact, site visits, sharing of cultural knowledge and discussions highlighting the significance of the relationship between the shield and shield designs. The project complemented existing Gallery resources that explore the tradition of linework in the south-east, particularly the landmark exhibition, Murruwaygu, and recent acquisition of a Sydney broad shield.

  • Impact

    The Gallery has identified that Indigenous young people in the New South Wales Youth Justice System (NSW YJS) detention are need of support. Detention rates for Indigenous children in Australia are currently 28 times greater than non-Indigenous children, and New South Wales has the greatest number of children in custody of any state. Indigenous children are particularly at risk of incarceration, being 3 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be sent to court rather than be cautioned. Research suggests that participation in youth justice art programs results in increased self–esteem and self–discipline, heightening the chances of successful rehabilitation. Djamu Youth Justice aims to reconnect young people with art and culture to strengthen their sense of identity and belonging, along with giving them a positive outlet from within the confines of the New South Wales Youth Justice System.

     Using the Gallery’s education resource, Home: Aboriginal art from New South Wales as the basis for exploring Aboriginal art practice within New South Wales, the Gallery has delivered a series of artmaking workshops, artist talks and discussion sessions for both young people in custody and Department of Education and Department of Youth Justice staff. The program aims to address the following outcomes:

    • Aid the rehabilitation of youth offenders through creating meaningful connections to art and culture.

    • Create positive relationships between youth offenders and members of the Aboriginal arts community.

    • Create mentorship and vocational pathways for youth offenders post release.

    • Enable Indigenous students and their educators in the NSW YJS to better understand and appreciate the richness and diversity of Aboriginal art and culture in New South Wales.

    • Encourage educators and programs staff in the NSW YJS to meaningfully utilise the Home resource to engage students with cultural material from within New South Wales on an ongoing basis.

    • Support educators in the NSW YJS to develop skills in visual art education and confidence in delivering Aboriginal art content. 

    • Improve cultural awareness among educators in the NSW YJS, strengthening relationships between NSW YJS staff and youth offenders.

  • Artists

    2017
    Andrew Snelgar, Roy Kennedy, Tony Albert

    2018
    Jonathan Jones, Kent Morris, Andrew Snelgar, James Tylor, Julie Freeman

    2019
    Hayley Millar Baker, Cheryl Davison, Andrew Snelgar

    2020
    James Tylor

    2021
    Lucy Simpson, Tom Barker

Since November 2019, I have been working with Frank Baxter Youth Justice Centre to deliver a cultural healing group. As part of this group, I have been co-facilitating a 15-week Shield Project with the Art Gallery of New South Wales. For the young men, the shield represents an opportunity to protect their emotions and self-discipline. The process of making assists the young men to live in the present, to work on stopping and thinking, not rushing, and to provide balance within the group. It has required patience to create a calm and safe place when working on activities, where the young men can start understanding self and thinking about what is best, having self-awareness, consciousness, not walking around distracted, disconnected from self and what is happening around them
Aboriginal Practice Officer, Department of Youth Justice, 2020