Uncle Bruce with children from Barnardos' Yurungai Indigenous Learning Centre.

This month Barnardos celebrated a milestone anniversary for indigenous worker, Uncle Bruce.

Uncle Bruce has been helping children at our Yurungai Indigenous Learning Centre for 10 years, putting them on the right path as a mentor and carer.

The traditional celebration at Yurungai included a smoking ceremony and dancing, while Uncle Bruce’s son played the didgeridoo.

Uncle Bruce features in our Barnardos Annual Review and this is what he says about his time at Barnardos:

“I’ve always loved working with kids. Teaching them our culture and leadership skills is so important.  I’m a Budjari-Muruwari man. I came down to Waterloo ten years ago from Brewarrina for a week’s work and I’m still here today.

I pick the kids up in the bus at the end of the school day. We get them into a routine with their homework and keep in contact with the teachers. Our program delivers a range of academic, recreational and social activities for the kids – giving them the same opportunities as their peers.

I believe that the kids have got to learn about their identity. We teach them about their culture and their history. It’s so important that our kids know where they come from and where they fit within society. When we talk about the Dreaming, we don’t just talk about the past, we also talk about the future. It’s never-ending. Traditionally when a child is born they get an elder that is responsible for that child. So we try to encourage a lot of that stuff as well. We become an extended family.

We get some kids with really bad behavioural problems, but who else is going to take them? We know at the end, they are going to be in a better situation, with better outcomes. We’re confident that we can transform them. That’s what we do.

I believe in not only helping the child, you’ve got to deal with their environment. The family, the teachers, the other students, they all have a lot of impact and influence. You start to change the things around them, that child will start to change.

Aboriginal children in the community will have that opportunity to go to TAFE or University because they have been given the support and guidance earlier in life with a good education.

We plant the seed within these little kids and they go on and you see them blossom. It makes you feel proud to be a part of their life. We get our rewards at the end.

Our program receives no government funding and is truly only possible thanks to the kind and generous supporters who believe in what we do. So thank you.“