Not everything that counts can be counted

August 18, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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Stand Up’s Derech Eretz Indigenous Partnership has celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Gary Samowitz thanks Aunt Madge

Gary Samowitz thanks Aunt Madge

Albert Einstein famously said, “not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts” and for the 120 young participants in Stand Up’s Derech Eretz Indigenous Partnership program over the past ten years, this statement resonates.

Derech Eretz alumni participants, leaders, staff and community members recently came together in Sydney to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the community partnership program. Stand Up Chair and founding member of the program, Melanie Schwartz hosted the event.

Staff, volunteers and community members spoke about the great impact Derech Eretz has had on their lives.

“It has been a real privilege working with and getting to know the community and elders over a number of years,” said Gary Samowitz, Stand Up’s CEO. “I am proud of Stand Up’s record of working in partnership with the people of the community to effect real change and have a positive impact on the community’s children.”

Elders with past participants

Elders with past participants

“The alumni of our programs have gone on to do a range of incredible things in Indigenous affairs, working with initiatives that empower communities all across Australia. Drench Eretz has catalysed awareness and activism in our 120 participants and their families. We are creating a small but significant army of people dedicated to positive change in Australia” says Schwartz.

Derech Eretz is Stand Up’s flagship Indigenous Partnership Program, and takes 8-12 young adults from Sydney and Melbourne to volunteer in Toomelah and Boggabilla, located in northern New South Wales.

“The elders, community and especially the children are so impressed and grateful to have these young people come to our communities. The programme is very important and vital to our kids” said Auntie Madeline McGrady, an Aboriginal Elder of the community.

“The Derech Eretz program has certainly changed my life and has made me extremely passionate about Indigenous issues that exist in our society today”, said Elana Volanakis, a Derech Eretz alumni and current Stand Up staff member.

The program provided the impetus for other Stand Up Indigenous Partnership programs, such as Camp Connections where volunteers run informal goal-setting and leadership workshops with adolescents in the Toomelah and Boggabilla communities. The Yorta Yorta program also follows the Derech Eretz model and takes Melbourne volunteers to the communities of Cumeragunja and Echuca in Northern Victoria.

Stand Up has always created partnerships with local programs supporting Indigenous youth in Sydney: Biala Aboriginal girls hostel and Weave’s Kool Kids Klub.

The Derech Eretz program runs twice a year; in January for new participants, and in July for Alumni participants. For more information please contact [email protected] or visit


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