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West Lakes staff visit Operation Flinders Head Quarters SA

It was with great enthusiasm that the staff from our West Lakes Branch visited Operation Flinders SA [1] to learn about their continued work in the community and what they do for disadvantaged youth in South Australia.

Operation Flinders Foundation has become a strong community partner of Beyond Bank [2] and the staff in SA are getting right behind the partnership by making Operation Flinders the focus of our Community Reward Account program during the months of May and June 2017.  Beyond Bank also donated $12,500 through a Community Development Grant in 2016 which Operation Flinders used to purchase a vehicle that will take participants to the Flinders Ranges.

During the recent visit, John Van Ruth (CEO) and Jonathon Robran (Business Development Manager) talked to the staff about Operation Flinders and the fantastic work they do. The program has been running for over 25 years and was founded by Pamela Murray-White who was a former teacher and army officer.

Operation Flinders conducts 5 exercises each year which are held in Yankaninna Station in the far northern Flinders Ranges.  Participants are sourced from a number of agencies and authorities with most coming via the Department of Education and Children’s Development. Participants have generally been identified as being ‘youth-at-risk’.  They are young people who without some form of active intervention may be at risk leaving school, criminal offending, drug/alcohol abuse, self-harm, or not realising their full potential.

When they get to Yankaninna they typically spend eight days there.  The teams arrive with their counsellors & are met by their team leaders who have a backpack for each participant complete with all the basic necessities (sleeping bag, ground sheet, eating utensils, wet weather gear, tent pegs, ropes and water bottles).  The next eight days are a challenging time for the youth who are between 13 to 18 years of age.  They trek through the outback and cover approximately 100km. At the end of the eight days the participants are challenged with abseiling a 20 metre cliff with the help of team members!  The aim of this exercise is to help overcome their various fears and gain self-confidence.

Thank you to John and Jonathon for allowing us to visit Operation Flinders and learn about the fantastic work done for troubled youth in the community.