Paul's cover image
Paul

Paul Bridge

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: Western Australia Education > General
Social Welfare > Indigenous
The WA Department for Child Protection Churchill Fellowship to research models and programs that address challenges facing Indigenous men and their capacity to support their children into the future, and how schools can help support successful models - Canada
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About Paul

 

Paul Bridge is a Principal at Derby DHS  in the West Kimberley Region (K-12  school), working with students and families within the school community and nearby Aboriginal communities to develop approaches to mentor Aboriginal men to be positive role models to young Aboriginal men. Paul's Churchill fellowship was to investigate the provision of culturally based human development programs, concentrating on rebuilding and empowering young Aboriginal males and families.

 

Paul returned to Australia with a greater understanding of how to develop local frameworks and service models for young males that can address the trans-generational dysfunction due to lack of cultural identity, trauma and loss. This includes a focus on building Aboriginal boys and their own sense of self and positive Aboriginal identity, and developing practices that will lead to productive and self-sustaining Aboriginal male adults, thereby contributing to the well-being of the whole community they live in a Kimberley context.

 

As a role model for many Aboriginal students and as a School Leader, Paul is passionate and committed to make a difference to the lives of Aboriginal youth in a positive and meaningful ways. As he highlights, there is a sense of urgency in the need to work on positive strength based approaches to addressing this challenge. 

 

 

Excerpt from “Inspiring Australians” written by Penny Hanley (2015)

 

Paul Bridge, another Indigenous man who was awarded a 2013 Churchill Fellowship, was also interested in solutions to the problems facing Indigenous men and their capacity to support their children into the future. He was also interested in how schools could support successful models. Paul Bridge is from the Western Australian Department for Child Protection.

 

Paul travelled to the United States and Canada, researching such programs as the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program America. Their motto is: ‘To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.’ Paul visited the Program in New York.

 

In Canada, a highlight for Paul was the Ghost River Rediscovery Society in Calgary, Alberta, which runs camps for disaffected young men and women based on nature-based activities. The organisers worked with the Elders to set up more than 100 activities to help support this youth program, for example, food harvesting, catching sea urchins and salmon, and hunting deer.

 

Paul’s recommendations after his trip included investing in cultural camps for youth to reconnect them with Aboriginal traditions. He perceived that in mentoring our young people in their struggle to break addictions to substances and violent behaviour and to be healthy emotionally and physically we need to heed the words of a Mohican man, Don Coylis: “The Elders have told us that in order to heal we must forgive. They said that we are carrying around trauma handed down to us from the generations before, from one generation to the next, and we don’t know it. Forgiveness is the pathway to getting rid of the trauma and the hate.”

 

 

 

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