Miyay Birray Youth Services
In March 2022, Miyay Birray Youth Services hosted a Youth Forum in Moree where over 300 young people attended. At this forum, young people shared that they love their local Moree community, although the systems, infrastructure and support aren’t there for them to feel safe, secure and have the same education and employment opportunities as other young people.
In December 2019, in preparation for the Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail project, Moree was selected by the NSW Government as a Special Activation Precinct (SAP) site, one of four regional areas slated to become a thriving business and employment hub over the next forty years. Construction is set to begin at the end of 2023 with the planned spend on civil works being $194m, creating an additional 4000 jobs and 2000 dwellings to be built within Moree by 2061.
However, in Moree, there is a shortage of locally based tradespeople to meet the current and projected demand for construction, repairs and maintenance work. The high Aboriginal youth unemployment rate (~30%) is an underutilised cohort that could be engaged to address this shortage, whilst simultaneously addressing the negative consequences of a lack of meaningful employment (e.g. poor physical/mental health and higher interactions with the criminal justice system). 30% of the Moree population of approximately 9,000, are Aboriginal with an average age of just 28. Of those Aboriginals aged 15 years and older, only 16% have completed year 12 and only a further 20% have completed year 10.
For 30 years, Aboriginal-led Miyay Birray Youth Service (MBYS) has been operating in Moree, providing a range of recreational, educational, and social programs targeting common issues relating to young Aboriginal people and their development. They recently established a small-scale lawn mowing and garden maintenance service by securing contracts with Aboriginal social housing providers. However, without sufficient infrastructure (vehicles, tools, machinery and secure storage), secure service contracts and a supported workforce, MBYS were unable to maintain and scale this work opportunity for young people and leverage the opportunity that comes along with the Inland Rail.
With the support of a VFFF Decent Work Exploration Grant, MBYS engaged Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA) to conduct a feasibility assessment to establish a social enterprise, Warrama Li (meaning ‘to build’ in the local Aboriginal language). Warrama Li focuses on construction, repairs and maintenance and will support the personal and professional development of young Aboriginal people in Moree by offering training and employment opportunities complemented with wrap around support. The SEFA feasibility assessment included a:
- theory of change
- risk assessment
- Board skills matrix
- outcomes measurement framework
- detailed financial modelling.
Darrel Smith, MBYS CEO, describes this work done by SEFA as ‘enabling Miyay Birray to bring their 10-year vision to life’. Following this piece of work VFFF have approved a two-year grant to support Warrama Li in the critical establishment phase of the social enterprise, the first Aboriginal owned, managed and locally based business in the building and repairs industry in Moree.