Toys Change Lives (TCL) is a not-for-profit, self-funded organisation based in Casino, NSW that is making big strides in reducing recidivism in First Nations youth. TCL, is a toy workshop with a difference. This particular toy workshop is staffed by Indigenous youth who have been released from Juvenile Justice Detention Centers, or who have had a brush with the Justice System and are believed to be ‘At Risk’.
Toys Change Lives is a one year employment and community re-entry program for Indigenous Youth post-release from Juvenile Detention. It’s an employment pathway run by the Keeping Our Freedom Youth Indigenous Corporation, a Not-For-Profit founded by Pastor Peter Boughy, in 2014.
Having worked as Chaplain at Grafton’s Juvenile Detention Centre (ACMENA) for over 14 years, Pastor Boughy noticed the same kids coming back through the system again and again. It was then that he decided to make a difference and offer an alternate pathway for the youth.
Indigenous youth are hired by TCL to utilise their innate artistic abilities to create toys and products which are then sold to the public to fund the program.
“What motivates [the indigenous youth] now is Thursday morning, when they get paid. They look forward to coming to work because they see what they produce, so it gives them a really great sense of achievement,” explains Pastor Boughy.
Art is a powerful tool in the fight for social justice and equity, with Toys Change Lives being a prime example of what it can achieve. Indigenous youth are highly overrepresented in Australia’s criminal justice system, highlighting a significant social problem. In Australia, only 5% of youth identify as Indigenous, yet they make up 52% of 10-17 year old’s in juvenile detention across Australia.
After being released from juvenile detention, it’s difficult for young offenders to re-enter their community without prejudice, and very easy to fall back into negative behaviours & peer groups. TCL solves both these issues by providing a first step into unprejudiced employment and a peer group who are on their way to a self-empowered future.
How can you help?
Toys Change Lives is currently in urgent need of volunteers after the Covid-19 pandemic and recent flooding disasters greatly diminished their volunteer base.
In particular, volunteers with retail experience who can work in the front of the toy shop are greatly needed, along with volunteers who have basic bookkeeping skills such as basic computer literacy and can perform simple admin tasks like responding to emails and organising receipts.
Other volunteer skills which are always in need of are:
- Woodworking Tuition
- Sewing Tuition
- Sewing Assistance with our ‘Luby Cuddlies’ dribble cloths
- ‘Shop Attendant’ assistance on Saturday Mornings from 9am-12pm.
- Market Stall Attendants on Sunday mornings from 6am-10am.
Any amount of time which can be volunteered is greatly appreciated, even if it is for a morning or one day a week. This is a wonderful opportunity to support social justice in Australia and the role of art in bettering Indigenous lives.
Because TCL has youth aged 16 and under, it is a requirement that all Volunteers and Staff have a Working With Children Check. It’s free and easy to apply for online or at your local NSW Service Centre. The check involves a National Police Check (criminal history record check) and a review of reportable workplace misconduct.
If you wish to support Toys Change Lives through the purchase of toys or other products for sale, you can either visit the TCL store On Bundjalung Country, in the Northern Rivers of NSW, at 112 Walker Street, CASINO 2470 or via their website*.
*Please note Toys Change Lives is currently updating their website and some disruptions to the online store may be experienced. We encourage you to check back in another time.