CATCH ‘n’ Cook participants Stella and Tanna Ivey from Bilambil.
CATCH ‘n’ Cook participants Stella and Tanna Ivey from Bilambil. Crystal Spencer

Boys help break racial barriers

YOUNG indigenous people from Murwillumbah to the Tweed worked to close the gap in a five-day holiday program this week.

Catch ‘n’ Cook has involved 41 young people aged 12 to 21 fishing in tinnies on Tweed River, painting, storytelling, drumming and playing sport.

Tweed Shire Council’s youth development officer Margaret Strong said the program had attracted strong community support.

“Elders have been phenomenal with their support and we have had up to four elders come along each day,” Ms Strong said.

“The older boys have been the main peer mentors helping the younger children in the boats fishing.

Community liaison officer for New South Wales Police Beck Couch said the older boys in the program had done a great job.

“They’re driving the boats but they are also helping break down the barriers between the younger generation and the elders in the community,” Ms Couch said.

“Breaking down the barriers between elders, community members and the community’s youth is a positive way forward for the future of the community’s young people.”

Ms Strong said participants in the program had worked on art canvases each afternoon with separate artwork for males and females.

“We have been running workshops where the children have learnt the difference in art between both genders,” Ms Strong said.

“Each community member who has come along has made their mark on the artworks.

“I am hoping for both artworks to be displayed around the community and not stay in one place.”

Catch ‘n’ Cook co-ordinator Peter Cooley said similar programs were run throughout New South Wales but this was the first time for the Tweed.

“It is a fantastic partnership and it has been amazing to come up from Sydney and see the kids’ involvement,” Mr Cooley said.

“What pleases me most is seeing young people mixing with the older members from the community in a positive, relaxing environment.

“This to me is just as important as gaining fishing skills.”

The program was funded by the New South Wales Saltwater Recreational fishing trust and the Tweed Shire Council.

Participants learned a number of skills including rigging and baiting lines, safely using and maintaining fishing gear, sustainable fishing methods and sound environmental practices.

A breakfast at Pioneer Park, Tweed Heads West this morning from 8am will mark the end of the holiday program with fishing from 9am until noon on the boats.

Ms Strong said participants would keep their fishing rod, tackle box and other prizes at the end of the program as an incentive to attend each day.

Ms Strong said she hoped the program would return to the region in some form.

“We also have plans to organise boating licences for eligible participants after the program finishes,” she said.

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