Operation Flinders helping kids at risk

Article image - Operation Flinders helping kids at risk

Onkaparinga, located in South Australia, is steering kids at risk in the right direction through an eight day wilderness programs run by Operation Flinders. The camping trips are aimed at 13 to 18 year old males and females who have either breached the law or are at risk of breaching the law.

“By taking kids out of this environment, Operation Flinders provides individuals with demanding outdoor challenges and support to help develop personal attitudes and values of self esteem, motivation, team work and responsibility,” said Onkaparinga’s Councillor Darryl Parslow. “It teaches them to share, care and respect for each other and the environment and also demonstrates that they need to recognise their fears before they can overcome them.

“The program aims to show youth that they need to be able to trust adults to achieve their goals.” The community, including teachers, police officers and child youth and family services workers can nominate kids to take part in the program.

Activities undertaken throughout the camping trip include walking/hiking, abseiling, meeting with the Adnyamathanha community (the traditional owners of that part of the northern Flinders Ranges), nature experiences and climbing Mount Gill. Each participant carries an eight kilogram backpack filled with everything they need for the entire trip.

In 2003 a research evaluation was conducted. The results found that young people who attended the program gained benefits including higher self esteem, anger management, change in attitude and, most notably, improved classroom behaviour. There were also benefits in life skills, parent/teacher interrelationships and the ability to understand themselves and others better.

Considering many youth at risk are traditionally unresponsive to intervention, there is strong support that the Operation Flinders program is providing an environment conducive to positive change in young people.

Operation Flinders runs four programs each year from April through to September.

For further information contact Councillor Darryl Parslow on 0408 847 293.