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Coles Express builds rapport with Indigenous youth

Coles Express has partnered with Red Dust Role Models since 2014. Working in remote Indigenous communities ​across the Top End for more than 20 years, Red Dust Role Models 'Healthy Living' programs encourage Indigenous youth to learn more about health, and inspire them to live healthier lifestyles.

Generations of Indigenous Australians in remote communities have lived a life impacted by poor health. This affects the whole community, especially young people. Red Dust’s programs - in partnership with Coles Express - aim to improve youth health in the remote Indigenous communities, such as Daly River, Northern Territory. Daly River is 224 km south west of Darwin and has approximately 600 residents.

 More than 1,000 Coles Express team members donate to Red Dust through regular payroll deductions, to help fund the Daly River programs.

Team members like Michael Gates, site manager at Coles Express Mt Gambier, have visited Daly River to help students learn the essential elements of good health, including good nutrition and hygiene, avoiding substance misuse and enjoying fun, physical activities.

 Michael says his experience was 'life changing' and exceeded his expectations. 

 “I just want to make a difference which is why I served in the army for 20 years and why I’ve worked at Coles Express for 20 years. I’ve been into some of these communities through my time in the army and wanted to go back. When it comes down to it, I’ve always been interested in Indigenous culture and their sense of community.  We were welcomed by the whole community right from the word go and immediately got involved with activities - playing footy was exhausting! We helped with numeracy activities in class and a healthy food blind tasting with fruit. It’s also good to see where our money goes.”

Since his return Michael has rallied his friends to support Red Dust, driving 50 new likes to the Red Dust Facebook page.

Darren Smith, CEO Red Dust, anticipates an even deeper relationship building between Coles Express and the Daly River community in future years.

"Through our partnership with Coles Express, we are impacting the health of Indigenous youth living in the remote community of Daly River. More than 15 team members have visited Daly River as role models, generously giving their time, sharing culture and life experiences. We are grateful for the practical assistance the team is providing by supporting Red Dust to deliver a targeted health curriculum into the Daly River community school. This support allows us to reach even more children over our week long programs, and the team themselves have been supportive and respectful.”