Wednesday, August 10, 2022
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Local Hero says aim for stars, focus on process

Shane was born in Redfern, a place where many people, especially Aboriginal people, have struggled to survive. However, from his childhood, Shane was inspired by his parents to see and initiate new possibilities. Some of the enthusiasm of his parents arose out of their membership of the Koori Lighthouse Church. Today, Shane himself is a person of faith, but not of the church.

He also saw positive role models in Indigenous leaders of that day, like Charlie Perkins and others who encouraged their people to believe that they could do things to produce change. The boat, the Tribal Warrior, was also a special interest and later a place for training young people and for helping to fund his work.

When asked what principles lie beneath his mentoring work, Shane said that he invites others to focus on what they can do, rather than what seems too difficult. He finds that group work which brings peer pressure to bear in a positive way and creates a view of “cool guys” as those who achieve goals, rather than those who are pot smokers, really works well for change.

When he and the local Police Commander Luke Freudenstein (who also received an Australia Day award) joined forces in a true partnership and together built relationships with groups of young people, the local robbery statistics went down by 82 per cent – 14 versus 114 per month. Relationships between the young people and the police were transformed and there was virtually no re-offending. None of this was due to special favours, just the developing of respectful relationships, self-respect and the sharing of stories.

Shane’s dreams for the future include helping young people to begin and develop their own businesses as well as their gaining more confidence in many settings for life. At the moment, 28 young people meet three mornings a week for training at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, and go out together. They give hope, strength and wisdom to each other, quite apart from that which they receive from their mentors.

Talking with Shane Phillips reveals a person who always has a new dream before him, who focuses on the processes of life, relationships and achievements. It would be hard to talk with him without feeling that you, too, could help to change the world, build a greater community and live out a greater hope. He truly is an inspiration! Thank you Shane.

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