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…that I can make a difference by helping young Indigenous people build skills, develop confidence and find opportunities to shine.


RUBYS REUNIFICATION PROGRAM: GEORGE’S STORY


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GEORGE WAS 17 WHEN HE FIRST ARRIVED AT RUBYS, UNITING COMMUNITIES’ REUNIFICATION SERVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AT RISK OF HOMELESSNESS.


Since then, he’s used his experience and skills for good, volunteering with a range of programs for young people.


“My sister and I got kicked out of home and had nowhere to go,” George says. “I didn’t want to go to Rubys, but the next thing you know, I’m booked in. I was pretty uncomfortable rocking up to some place I didn’t know, but as soon as I got there they made me feel welcome – they were really nice and easygoing – especially Mitch [Anderson, Rubys Coordinator].”


Now, George is living in his own place and is keen to give something back. A talented basketballer, he joined the Rubys basketball team, ‘United’, while still at Rubys and is now the team’s coach.


“I love basketball,’ says George, “I was playing the first day I got to Rubys


and next thing I was on the team. It was really good.”


As well as coaching, George is also an AIME volunteer. AIME is an educational program that gives Indigenous high school students the skills, opportunities and confidence to finish school at the same rate as their peers, and has proven to dramatically improve their chances of finishing school.


George, along with other former Rubys clients, got involved with the project through the Rubys for Reconciliation community initiative, which he devised and developed to help ensure that Rubys provides a culturally competent service to Indigenous young people and their families. All of the participants mentoring with the AIME program are part of the Reconciliation Advisory Group.


Mitchell Anderson says that the service is embracing George’s idea.


“George is doing a great job to lead this project - the Rubys ‘United’ basketball


team wore the Aboriginal flag on our shirts during Reconciliation Week and now the AIME project is taking off,” he says.


George says the AIME program has been both challenging and rewarding.





As mentors, we have to get out of our comfort zone when we are talking to mentees. We sit down with kids, get to know them and their background, where their families come from, and learn about their Aboriginal identity.’


George says that volunteering has changed the way he thinks.


“It’s definitely made me want to go out and do more stuff, to help more people – especially kids – who are in the same position that I was in. It really hits you in the heart when you connect with someone.”


Uniting Communities Annual Report 2016 | 27


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