Over the past decade almost 1,000 young people across South Australia have been supported to make positive changes in their lives through taking part in Tumbelin, Baptist Care SA’s Bush Adventure Therapy program.
Tumbelin, a Ngarrindjeri word for “Awaken and Live”, is founded on the principle that young people who discover and experience love and connection – with themselves, in a community and through time spent together in the bush – will gain new hope, increase their capacity to build positive, healthy relationships, and be empowered to live with purpose and meaning.
In the Eyre Peninsula, Tumbelin has been delivered in Pt. Lincoln, Cleve and Tumby Bay and will be expanded to Streaky Bay in 2019. Young people with complex needs and their families who are struggling with poor mental health, drug and alcohol misuse, relationship breakdown, disengagement from education, and/or connection with the justice system are supported through the program.
In South Australia, 17 percent of 12-17 year old secondary students reported consuming more than four standard drinks at least once in a single occasion within the past two weeks, and 28 percent within the last month. In addition, 11 percent of students reported having used cannabis in their lifetime and two percent reported use in the last week.
After participating in the Tumbelin program, 53 percent of young people reported an immediate reduction in the adverse impacts of alcohol and other drugs (AOD). This figure increased to 88 percent three months after the conclusion of the program. Overall, 60 percent of Tumbelin clients reported a positive change in their attitude towards alcohol and other drugs.
When 15 year old Troy* began Tumbelin, he said he “didn’t need relationships or friends”. Troy was self-medicating his anxiety with drugs; he was disengaged from school, isolated, and severely depressed.
For Troy, like so many of our young people, his destructive behaviours were connected to poor self-worth. Tumbelin emphasises the importance of relationships and, using a Restorative Practice framework, the team worked with Troy to identify his strengths, challenge him, and assisted him to build his resilience and positive relationships with others.
A significant breakthrough for Troy came through forming new relationships, both with Tumbelin staff who mentored and supported him, and other participants who encouraged him to manage his anxiety in positive ways.
Through Tumbelin, Troy realised that he was capable of more than he ever imagined. Today his life is back on track. He has re-engaged with education, reduced his drug use, learnt healthy strategies to help manage his anxiety, and started making positive plans for his future.
There continues to be a real and ongoing need in the community for positive interventions amongst rural young people with complex needs. Baptist Care SA is committed to delivering Tumbelin across the Eyre, Limestone Coast and Murray-Mallee Hills-Fleurieu regions in 2019 and beyond, and will continue to support and challenge young people to make positive changes in their lives.