Wadeye, Northern Territory
There’s a patch of Wadeye, a remote outback town south-west of Darwin, that’s starting to look pretty good. Two years of weeds, abandoned car parts and town rubbish is disappearing. Slowly, the Thamarrurr Men’s Shed is re-emerging thanks to young men working off their court-ordered community service hours. The project uses whipper snippers and lawn mowers bought with a grant from Highways and Byways. It’s an investment that is paying huge dividends according to Men’s Shed coordinator Peter Zambellakis.
“The equipment had been lost, stolen or broken and nothing much had happened for a couple of years so the place looked a mess. We are slowly cleaning it up and making the place a bit more welcoming and then we will start on neighbouring blocks so the machinery will be getting a lot of use,” Peter said.
Peter works closely with the young men and allows them to ‘be boss’ of their work times, often taking time off during the hottest part of the day. Peter is encouraging some of the older men in the community, including one who maintains the mowers, to mentor some of the young men in the Youth Diversion Program. Apart from passing on skills, Peter hopes it will nurture respect for the elders.
“Some of the young fellas that come here to do their community service hours have never had a job, or done any work, so this helps them to get in the habit of turning up and committing to a task. They know they have to complete their hours (90 or 120 hours) in a certain period of time so they can take charge of how that happens,” Peter said. One of the participants was so pleased with the work he had done he asked Peter if they could also work on his family’s yard.
Wadeye has been in the news in recent years for all the wrong reasons. Almost two years ago many of the town’s buildings were damaged during rioting. The ‘spruced up’ Men’s Shed will hopefully be a positive experience for those involved.