Cormach Evans is an ambassador for the Aboriginal community. He is responsible for the program Strong Brother Strong Sister, a mentoring program for Aboriginal youths aiming to help improve their health and well-being, and to help them to achieve their greatest possible outcome.
The program creates culturally safe and appropriate spaces for Aboriginal young people in Geelong, Surf Coast, Colac and Melbourne areas. Evans’ latest venture is Paddle for Aboriginal Health, which aims to raise funds and awareness for the health and well-being of Aboriginal young people and is born out of his love for surfing and the ocean.
“The Paddle for Aboriginal Health is about delivering a message to Government and Australia, that there isn’t enough being done for Aboriginal People to improve their health and wellbeing, especially for Aboriginal Young people,” Evans says.
“Through the paddle I want to educate people on the ripple effects of First colonisation and stolen generation and what the impacts of Transgenerational grief, loss and trauma has on our people.”
This paddle is continuing the adventure Evans started last year, when he paddled across the Torres Strait – which you can view on Red Bull TV (titled One and A Half Canoes). This experience is something he holds close to his heart.
“It showed the strength of culture that is still alive in some parts of Australia and how powerful it truly is. To be welcomed with open arms by Traditional owners in that area … demonstrates the pure beauty and kindness of Indigenous Peoples of Australia,” he says.
Despite the positives of the experience, Evans explains there was also a downside.
“The hardest part was leaving that beautiful place; the land, culture, people, way of life, traditional language, everything was so rich and alive up there. And to know I had to come home to a place where culture, language, land, and our traditional way of life has been forced to be forgotten about is truly heart breaking.”
This leg of the paddle will see Evans travel from Aireys Inlet to Saint Kilda beach. It will be a long and enduring trip, and, for the most part on the southern open oceans of Victoria – known for being both dangerous and cold. However, Evans is not worried.
“Really it’s just all about respecting the ocean and knowing when to wait and be patient, to be able to not put yourself in a dangerous situation,” he explains, “I have been waking up around 5.30am and either going paddling in the ocean, rivers, or swimming in the pool – doing around five to 10 kilometres, depending on what I have planned for the day. After work I’m either training in the gym, at home or on the water again, then bed and back at it all over again.”
The funds raised from Paddle for Aboriginal Health will go into programs run by Strong Brother Strong Sister supporting their three main actions.
“Empowering, Mentoring and Guiding; Strong Brother, Strong Sister is lowering Aboriginal youth teen pregnancy rates, youth suicide rates, incarceration rates; to get us closer to closing the gap of Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy, and is assisting with Aboriginal young people completing school, staying in the workforce, completing relevant training and educating wider communities on the daily challenges Aboriginal Youth face on a daily basis.”
As well as fundraising, the aim is to help raise awareness for Aboriginal Youth. The ultimate message Evans wishes to spread through this paddle is the importance of equality for Aboriginal people. He believes it is necessary to do this away from the control of the mainstream media – who often help spread and support a biased narrative about Aboriginal people.
When & Where: Paddle for Aboriginal Health – October 6 – 9
You can donate to the cause via strongbrotherstrongsister.org
Written by Perri Digby