Over the past five years, Richmond’s centre for Indigenous youth, the Korin Gamadji Institute, has welcomed over 850 students through its doors as part of the REAL Program.

The program, which is specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 14 to 17 years, has engaged students throughout Victoria and Central Australia, with significant numbers from Mildura, Bendigo, Shepparton and Melbourne.

KGI Director, Aaron Clark, said a key element of the program was around voting, and participants attended sessions organized by program partner, the Victorian Electoral Commission.

“We recognise the work and support of our partners including the VEC, Federal Government and YMCA who have played a significant role in developing and delivering the REAL Program in the past 5 years,” Clark said.

On the fifth and final day of the most recent program earlier this month, participants shared their stories and experiences at a morning tea celebration with parents, partners and Richmond employees.

One participant performed a rap, while others shared their artwork and their personal journeys – including the program’s identity session, which explored participants’ connection with their cultural backgrounds.

To participate in the program, secondary students are nominated by their school, and supported by their local community. The students are selected for being role models in both their school and community.

“We have seen many quality young people come through the program, and we congratulate them on the courage and efforts they have shown in taking steps to become leaders and role models for their peers and broader community,” Clark added.