IMAA Is Training Indigenous Barbers In The Northern Territory

IMAA Is Training Indigenous Barbers In The Northern Territory
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

IMAA has helped support a barber training program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Northern Territory a chance to provide haircuts to the community.

Barber Blak Kings is a new initiative offering a barbery training course for disadvantaged Indigenous young people created by Aboriginal social enterprise Kings Narrative, which is supported by the IMAA as part of its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

The six-week program, delivered by Kings Narrative in partnership with Ballaman Wellness, will be facilitated by Aboriginal men, for Aboriginal men, and will provide participants the opportunity to learn the foundational skills of Barbering. Trainees will master skills in shampoo and basin services, traditional and classic men’s haircuts, shaved heads and faces, fade techniques, customer service and basic administration.

As part of the initiative, Kings Narrative will also establish an Aboriginal-owned-and-operated barber shop, Barber Blak Kings, designed to provide graduates with meaningful employment opportunities. Initially, the barber service will be mobile, setting up at community events, football carnivals, markets, the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre, and bail facilities, while also providing free cuts several nights a month to Aboriginal men living in poverty.

The IMAA launched its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in May with a mission to educate its members on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture. The plan includes an investment in Imparja Television’s Make a Difference program, with 10 per cent of IMAA members’ combined media spend invested in grass-root initiatives like Barber Blak Kings.

The program is also supported by Imparja Television’s Make A Difference program and Victims of Crime NT. The IMAA and a group of its members travelled to Alice Springs to attend the launch of Barber Blak Kings and to be immersed in Aboriginal culture. The group spent a night under the stars at Black Tank, or Apmwerre, a significant sacred site for Kings Narrative Managing Director, Tyson Mpetyane Carmody and where his grandfathers are from. IMAA members on the tour also donated Barbering products to the Barber Blak Kings program.

IMAA reconciliation chair, Steve Fagan, said: “We’re incredibly proud to support Kings Narrative and the Barber Blak Kings initiative. This program is a true example of an initiative delivered for and by the community, offering meaningful employment pathways for budding barbers, while also providing haircuts to the community. The program directly aligns with the IMAA’s commitment as part of our RAP to educate the media industry on the importance of helping fund and support the future of Indigenous Australians.”

IMAA CEO, Sam Buchanan, said: “To see first hand with some of our members how these young Aboriginal men have learned Barbering skills and take such pride in the work they do and seeing this important initiative come to life, is deeply moving and a privilege to be a part of.”

Tyson Mpetyane Carmody, said: “Our Barber Blak Kings program is a project that is facilitated by Aboriginal men for Aboriginal men and is purposely developed to engage disadvantaged young people who have been involved in the justice system and/or are participating in anti-social behaviour It gives them access to meaningful employment, while celebrating their individual culture and employable skills.

“The concept for Barber Blak Kings came from the young men participating in ongoing Kings Narrative programs, with one man in particular who had an opportunity to participate in Barber training. When asked why he liked cutting hair for other young people in the facility, he said: ‘It makes me feel good, helping them to feel good’.

“This young man was recently released and has experienced anxiety worrying about the reality of having no genuine employment opportunities outside the walls of the detention centre. Ongoing and meaningful employment is an important factor in minimising reoffending. However, there is an even more important step before men can obtain and maintain meaningful employment and that is to have access to culturally competent counselling services first to reconnect to culture and secondly to unpack and understand trauma to see the effects this has on their lives.

“Kings Narrative decided to create a project that is led by the young men so that they could have access to this counselling support as well as meaningful employment that celebrates their individual cultural and employable skills.”

While not cutting hair, barber staff will maintain the mobile barber, undertake further training, and work in other Kings Narrative operations such as cultural men’s camps, immersions and bush medicines. A custom-built truck equipped with high-quality barber accessories and tools, will launch later this year. The mobile salon will be used to deliver training and programs in remote communities, and to provide barber services.

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