NPYWC’s members have always had an enduring and passionate interest in seeking better lives for their young people.

Since the beginnings, there has always been a strong focus on the isues of substance misuse, and education.

In 1997, NPYWC received funding from the (then) Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs to deliver the first Kungka Career Conference. The aim was to address issues of teenage pregnancy by exposing girls and young women to education and employment options, and inspiring them through talks and workshops from prominent female Aboriginal role models.  This first Conference was received with an overwhelming response  – attended by 250 girls and young women! The Kungka Career Conference has since continued on as a popular event for young women and regional stakeholders alike, and has become a flagship event for NPYWC.

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The Youth team was formally established at NPYWC following the pioneering work with young people carried out by our Tjungu (Working Together) team (that provides services and advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities) in the mid 1990’s. At this time, Tjungu staff found that many young people’s disabilities were caused by severe petrol sniffing and substance misuse. Staff also noted a high correlation between substance misuse, especially petrol, and the incidence of youth suicide. These observations were later supported by evidence that between 1998 and 2003 sniffing petrol caused the deaths of at least 32 people in the central region, and probably hundreds from the 1970s to the mid-2000s .

In 1999, NPYWC received its first funding to address the problem of Petrol Sniffing – targeting the SA community of Fregon.  With the support of The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), through its Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH) and what is now the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), we began our first youth program – specifically aiming to reduce the incidence of petrol sniffing by offering case-work and diversionary programs for young people at risk.

This was followed by the Department for Families and Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) funded Reconnect Program, reconnecting young people with community, family and education in the Northern Territory communities of Mutitjulu, Imanpa, Finke and Docker River from 2003-2006. Since 2004 the NPY Women’s Council has also received funding for a Youth Diversion Program from the Northern Territory Police and later the Northern Territory Department of Health and Families. The Australian Government through the Department of Health and Aging (DoHA) continues to fund the Young People’s Program (YPP) (previously the PSP) for substance abuse prevention and intervention in our Western Australian and South Australian member communities.

With the ongoing support of the Australian, SA and NT Governments, and occasionally, philanthropic donors, we have continued to make great progress. Direct service delivery, combined with long-term systemic advocacy and lobbying, ultimately led to the introduction of low aromatic (non-sniffable) Opal fuel in 2005. Since that time, the issue of petrol sniffing as been hugely reduced.

NPYWC Youth staff continue to play a significant role in the lobby for substance abuse prevention, treatment and improved youth services in the region. Members and staff are active in inter-agency collaborations, panels and regional bodies and  have made many submissions to coronial inquests, parliamentary inquiries, reviews and evaluations