Improving Indigenous men’s health is a big job and can easily become an overwhelming project. But for Jahdai Vigona, having the right guidance is the key.

Young people like Jahdai are trying to make changes big and small all over Australia, but every project starts with an idea and a drive to make a change.

How did they even start? How did they go from an idea to an actual project?

Four Trailblazers — and one former Trailblazer-turned-mentor — give advice on how to get started and how to turn an idea into reality.

They took part in ABC’s Heywire Trailblazer program, which shines a light on people aged 18 to 28 committed to making regional Australia even better.

The Trailblazers got the opportunity to pitch their ideas to politicians and community leaders in Canberra.

Now they’re here to give some advice to future change makers.

Josie: Ability Agriculture

‘Talk about the nitty-gritty’

Josie Clarke aims to highlight that agriculture can be an inclusive industry.(ABC licensed: Bradley Cummings Photography)

Josie Clarke from Bellimbopinni in New South Wales founded Ability Agriculture, an online platform to share the remarkable stories of people living with disabilities and working on the land.

The program, which Josie says highlights that agriculture can be an inclusive industry, is a registered not-for-profit charity. It has more than 2,000 Facebook community members, but Josie is eager to keep growing.

To that end she is launching an audiovisual series called Heard to bring Ability Agriculture’s stories to life.

Josie stresses the importance of coming up with a plan when starting a new project.

“I’d say ‘go for it’, but with a plan. If you have an idea, don’t just run this one-off project or program in your community, but think about all the little tedious details. Think about budget, think about costs to run an event, wages, all these things. Talk about the nitty-gritty of it.

“Sometimes you might feel like you have to do it all, but you don’t.

“You might have good marketing skills, but you’re not a business person or an accountant.

“Reaching out and saying ‘OK, what skills do I need and who’s the best organisation that can help me?’ is a big thing for young people.”

Jahdai: One Percent Better Communities

‘Find a mentor’

One Percent Better Communities works to improve mental and physical health for young Indigenous men.(ABC licensed: Bradley Cummings Photography)

Jahdai Vigona is a proud Tiwi Islands man with a passion for improving the lives of Indigenous people.

With Danté Rodrigues, he founded One Percent Better Communities to improve mental and physical health for young Indigenous men.

Their program combines boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, theatre and mindfulness to promote health, offer stress relief and create connections.

“When we first started we really had to establish what the program is and what we needed to be able to do it. If we want to run a program like this, we’re going to need an ABN [Australian Business Number], insurance, a venue and equipment. Networking is important too, knowing the right people that can help you out.” 

Jahdai says it’s important to get the right guidance from the beginning.

“The biggest thing though, would to be to have a mentor,” he says.

“Find some people who you’re interested in, who you want to learn from, who you can learn from.” 

Luke: Zero Gamble

‘Action will help you get results’ 

Luke Mead is working hard to give young people the tools to regain control over their gambling habits.(ABC licensed: Bradley Cummings Photography)

Luke Mead is from Darwin in the Northern Territory and has founded Zero Gamble. Through his work as a disability support worker he has seen firsthand what a gambling addiction can do to a young person’s life.

He created a web-based app called Zero Gamble, which is designed to empower young people to regain control over their gambling habits at their own pace.

It provides tools, tips and programs to help people manage their gambling urges and remain on the path to recovery.

Luke says the best way to start a project is by identifying a problem and bringing your own unique solution.

“I like technology and I brought a technology perspective to solving a gambling issue,” he says.

“I think bringing your idea to the problem is really important, and then just getting started and doing something.

“It may not be perfect, or what the end product is now, but it’s a step in the right direction. And just that action will help you get results.” 

He also explains that there will be challenges along the way.

“A lot of your friends and family won’t understand why you’re doing it or what’s the point.

“But no-one else will stand up for you and support you to do it if you don’t have the guts to do it yourself.” 

Jag: Money for the Young

‘It’s small steps’

Jag Singh is focused on teaching young people about financial literacy.(ABC licensed: Bradley Cummings Photography)

Jag Singh from Bairnsdale, Victoria, is an accountant who believes in teaching young people about money early on.

He runs Money for the Young workshops in schools to teach young people practical financial skills, and has plans to make educational materials more widely available.

Jag says starting a project starts with finding the core of the problem.

“Identify the needs and the reason for that need. So if you put that in the perspective of financial literacy, the reason is because young people have no guidance when it comes to money.”

“It’s small steps, you’re not the government that can just say, ‘Alright there’s $500 million to do this.’ Once you’ve identified the problem, you work on a plan to address that issue.”

Dre: MoZzi: Always Remember to Stay Deadly!

‘You’ve gotta believe in yourself’ 

Dre Ngatokorua’s program aims to help young people chase a career in media.(ABC licensed: Bradley Cummings Photography)

Dre Ngatokorua is a proud Wangkangurru, Adnyamathanha, Kuyani, Luritja, Dieri and Yankunytjatjara man, with Cook Island and Maori ancestry, from Port Augusta, South Australia. 

He is a 2021 Trailblazer and 2024 mentor, and his project MoZzi: Always Remember to Stay Deadly! aims to help young people forge media careers.

It all starts with an idea, Dre says.

“Just write down anything. No matter how far, there’s always some way to reach it, no matter how crazy the project, no matter how crazy ideas, just write it down. And you got to work your way here.” 

The next step is to really put yourself out there, Dre says.

“You’ve gotta believe in yourself. Learn to build yourself up, talk to anyone and everyone and then build those relationships because you will find the right people to connect with.” 

The ABC’s Trailblazers program provides a platform for people aged 18 to 28 who are doing inspiring things in their regional town.

From young community leaders to social entrepreneurs, advocates to event organisers, we’re looking for young people with a commitment to making regional Australia even better.

If you would like to find out more about the next Trailblazers intake, go to the ABC Trailblazers website.