Role Models Rising from the Red Dust

Tucked away on the scenic banks of the Daly River, you'll find Nauiyu, a vibrant community of approximately 300 people.

The location is not just a spot renowned for barramundi fishing, but it has also beautifully evolved into an incubator for young talent, thanks to the collaborative efforts of a dynamic range of community led organisations and Red Dust.

Red Dust’s youth-focused Healthy Living Program works with young people to develop skills and knowledge in mental, health and well-being. It also advocates resilience, cultural strength, and a resolute sense of identity among the younger generations.

Jy Simpkins, the co-captain of North Melbourne and a proud Yorta Yorta man, has recently become an ambassador for Red Dust. "Being a part of the Red Dust family is a grounding experience, it reaffirms my sense of self and is a constant reminder of why I am passionate about what I do,” he said.

Jy shares the belief with Red Dust that these communities are bursting at the seams with untapped talent. The passionate and dedicated young and emerging role models is something that never fails to impress the Red Dust team. Their drive is proof of the power of dreams when combined with an unwavering will.

Spotlighting on this shared spirit of encouragement was an AFL-themed program that was delivered in collaboration with the Miriam Rose Foundation and local schools Woolianna and St Francis Xavier Catholic College, it featured former Richmond AFLW player Steph Williams and Jy Simpkin.

Being of Larrakia and Iwaidja descent herself, and growing up in remote communities, Steph expressed how the program served as a wonderful opportunity to bond with and learn from children and Elders living in Nauiyu.  "Being a part of Red Dust has allowed me to inspire and be inspired by the younger generation. Their inspirational resilience and determination are stunning reminders of the immense potential these communities possess”, she said.  

During the program, local individuals like Tinalia Miller were a key part of the program delivery team. Having transformed from a previous participant to role mode from the red dust, Tinalia sets an example for the next generation. She fondly remembers her participation in the program and now looks forward to inspiring the younger generation as a role model along with Jy and Steph.

Jy Simpkin and students

So why is it crucial for children to have role models from their communities? Because it gives them someone to admire and look up to. Working hand-in-hand with Jy, Steph, and local role models like Tinalia, Red Dust aims to continue to celebrate current role models and build the aspirations of future role models from within community.

‘For more than 25 years Red Dust has been working with Indigenous youth and families, supporting them to walk confidently into a bright future. Working alongside Elders and remote Northern Territory communities we are redefining what success looks like, by harnessing the strengths of both ancient and modern cultures, and with a strong focus on community and individual ideas of identity, aspiration and cross-cultural competency in our DNA. When our founder asked me what our future should look like it was an easy response – Red Dust role models from the red dust, and that’s what we’re building”, said Jonathan Lindsay-Tjapaltjarri Hermawan, Red Dust’s Director, Red Dust’s Male Health Programs and Strategic Lead.

Join the Red Dust story.

With your support we can create more opportunities and experiences for young people.




Thank you to the following supporters of this project: