Case Study The Tribal Warrior Association—mentoring Indigenous young people

Tribal Warrior mentors and participants working out together

Tribal Warrior mentors and participants working out together

FaHCSIA funded an innovative prison post-release program for young inner-city Indigenous people in Sydney in 2011. The Tribal Warrior Association received a $200,000 grant from the Department to support its mentoring program.

The program began in 2009 when 10 young Indigenous men with their own histories of offending took up boxing and fitness training to help get their lives back on track. Their initiative grew into a mentoring program which now employs seven Indigenous mentors and has mentored more than 70 young Indigenous people over the past 12 months.

The program focuses on life-skills training for young Indigenous people in Redfern as well as instilling pride through learning about Indigenous culture. Police report that the mentoring program provided by the Tribal Warriors is contributing to a significant reduction in crime in Redfern.

A young man living with parents struggling with substance abuse was being regularly charged with offences until he was taken into the mentoring program. He has not reoffended since joining the program. His mentors helped him gain a General Purpose Hand Certificate 1 (Maritime) qualification and part-time work on Sydney boats. He is now planning a career and talks of his aspirations for his life.

Tribal Warrior’s Chairman Shane Phillips explains that mentors have been the drivers in almost all Koori communities.

‘It’s the grandparents, uncles, aunties, brothers and sisters who take it upon themselves to help people,’ Shane says.

‘Once these young people engage with their mentors they learn about the value of a work ethic and practical exercises to help them acquire life skills and build a sense of worth and belonging.’