VERTO's Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program has been delivering positive outcomes for students in three Orange-based schools since 2015. Since then, program leader and Wiradjuri woman Mary Croaker, has also been seeking ways to engage parents, carers and families to support their child’s educational journey.

Recently, the first step in this goal was realised with the creation of the Tidda Tradies program (Tidda meaning 'sister' in Wiradjuri language).

Delivered in conjunction with Orange Women's Shed and Glenroi and Bowen primary schools, Tidda Tradies invites students’ mothers and female carers to participate in a range of workshops on home maintenance, learning practical skills such as hanging a picture, painting a wall, or fixing a door.

Ms Croaker said the idea came to life after reflecting on her own upbringing.

"When I was a little girl growing up in Orange, I remember my mum fixing everything at home while my dad worked long hours as a shearer," she said. 

"If there was a doorknob to repair or a fly screen to hang, mum just had to learn how to do it because dad was busy working. She became the 'fixer' in our family, learning those handy, everyday skills and using them around the house.

"I saw an opportunity to connect with the students' mothers through building these practical maintenance skills."

"This program is more than learning DIY skills, too. It's about meeting like-minded people and creating a community of local women who can support their children and each other, addressing challenges and celebrating successes," Ms Croaker said.

According to VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell, Tidda Tradies is a critical extension of the Aboriginal Youth Leadership program.

“VERTO’s Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program aims to help young people at Glenroi and Bowen primary schools and Canobolas Rural Technology High School in Orange explore their post-school options while connecting to culture and community. I know I speak for the entire VERTO team when I say how proud we are of Mary and her work in this space,” he said.

“Tidda Tradies is a wonderful addition to the Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program that will help achieve long-term sustainable outcomes while allowing local Indigenous women to connect and learn new skills.”

Mr Maxwell said VERTO had proudly donated $3k worth of drills, hammers, tape measures, safety equipment (glasses, ear plugs, gloves), Bunnings gifts vouchers and more to help the group get started.

Tidda Tradies meets fortnightly on Thursday mornings at the current Women’s Shed space at the rear of Wangarang. For more information or to join the group, please contact Mary Croaker on 0447 523 331.