Introducing ‘The Walk’, a New Youth Diversionary Program led by Wunan

Published on Friday, 23 February 2024 at 9:00:00 AM

The Wunan Foundation, a well-established Aboriginal Controlled Community organisation, has successfully proposed a new youth diversionary program called “The Bedford Downs Stock Route Walk”, having received the official seal of approval from the Western Australian state government.

The initiative promises to introduce a new way of providing intervention and prevention support for young people in the Kimberely, helping break the cycle of offending behaviours, and improve community safety by providing at-risk youth with a transformative experience.


Youth crime is escalating in the East Kimberley, and Indigenous youth face numerous challenges such as poverty, poor health, and intergenerational trauma. Sending children to youth detention centres such as Banksia Hill is not working in ‘healing/ rehabilitating’ the children or their families.

This is a human tragedy which has a negative impact on the individuals, their families, and the wider community, as when they leave the detention centre they don’t come out as productive members of society. This is confirmed in the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission Report on Government Services 2022 on Youth Services, where it was reported that over 50% of the children who are released from sentenced supervision returned to sentenced supervision within 12 months.

Wunan are committed to providing better alternative options for our regions Indigenous youth to help put them on the right path through several preventative programs such as the Bedford Stock Route. We acknowledge that healing is about addressing trauma and that trauma can be experienced at the individual level (such as abuse, neglect, or family separation), the household level (for example witnessing violence or self-harm), or the societal level (including dispossession and dislocation, racism, social exclusion, and the experiences of the Stolen Generations).

The Walk

The program, set to comprise of two annual walks, one dedicated to a Boys Group and the other to a Girls Group, will each consist of 20 at-risk youths. Accompanying them on their journey will be 15 dedicated support crew members trained in their respective areas. This recurring initiative will unfold along the historic 126-kilometre Bedford Stock Route, commencing at Bedford Downs Station.

The purpose is to provide a secure and culturally enriching experience for young participants, fostering physical, emotional, and cultural well-being. The program is strategically designed to facilitate healing, establish support networks, and uncover opportunities for a brighter future.

Participants in “The Bedford Downs Stock Route Walk” will engage in a series of immersive and skill-building activities aimed at enhancing their resilience, self-sufficiency, and connection to the land.

These activities include navigation using both stars and maps, allowing participants to develop crucial orienteering skills. Additionally, they will learn essential bush survival techniques, such as identifying sources of water and food in the natural environment.

The program also incorporates practical lessons in bush cooking, providing hands-on experience in preparing meals using locally sourced ingredients. Through these activities, participants will not only gain valuable survival skills but also forge a deeper connection to the cultural and historical significance of the Bedford Stock Route.

Interested in Sponsoring ‘The Walk’?

Sponsors will have the opportunity to contribute to positive behavioural change in the East Kimberley, reduce the risk of youth offending or re-offending, and help close the gap by giving young Indigenous people the opportunity to grow and network in a culturally safe setting.

Your organisation will be an integral part of a co-designed, culturally relevant project that involves Aboriginal-led place-based service co-design meetings. This approach ensures that the project meets the specific needs of youth-at-risk and the broader community.

By sponsoring this initiative, you actively contribute to the well-being and empowerment of at-risk youth, fostering positive social change and building a safer community.

Sponsorship of this project also represents a cost-effective alternative to youth detention. Current statistics indicate that the Australian Government spends an average of $549,471.70 per child annually on detention, making “The Bedford Downs Stock Route Walk” a financially responsible and socially impactful intervention.

How You Can Get Involved:

We invite your organisation to become a key partner in “The Bedford Downs Stock Route Walk.”

Your sponsorship can take various forms, including financial support, in-kind contributions, or the provision of specific services that align with the project’s goals.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Prue Jenkins

Chief Executive Officer
Wunan Foundation

Phone 0499 997 940

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