Starling's helping hand at Kirinari Hostel
Kirinari means ‘place of learning’ in Yandruwanda language, and it's also an Aboriginal hostel in Newcastle.
This week Knights TV got a tour inside the hostel to see the great work done with Indigenous kids, with a little help from nib Newcastle Knights forward Josh Starling.
“At this hostel I have seven boys that come from rural communities, kids from Walgett, kids from Armidale, kids from Lightning Ridge,” said hostel manager Lehetta Lane-Porter.
“They live here during the school term to get a better education and more sporting opportunities."
Starling is a regular at the hostel, forming connections with the kids and running a program that helps to break the cycle.
“We were really excited when Josh came and met with us at the end of last year,” explained Lane-Porter.
“The good thing about Josh is I only have to make a phone call and he’ll pop over, if I’m having a bit of trouble he’ll come and be that back stop.”
“He has obviously made that strong connection and the boys are comfortable around him... he’s like a big brother to the boys.”
The Knights forward hopes the program is inspiring the boys to be more motivated in life.
“It is a program I thought up a little while ago about breaking the cycles, just trying to get these boys motivated and into different things that they won’t probably learn at school like leadership and goal setting,” explained Starling.
“If I can do things like that with them, it is always going to work well in their favour for life skills.”
Starling admits all the credit should go to the managers who are nurturing these young boys into responsible men.
“They are in a great environment, they do such good work for them,” said Starling.
“If they didn’t have people that care about them they wouldn’t come back from school holidays and from all reports I’ve got, they couldn’t wait to get back here.
“It is a massive stepping stone in life for them to finish school which wasn’t a high hope for them before they came here.”
The Indigenous boys at Kirinari agree it is a great place to stay.
“I love it, I wish I came here every day,” said boarder Ryan Morgan who is in his second year.
“Back home there is nothing there but drugs and alcohol and I don’t want to be caught up with it, I want to go to school get a good education."
“It is a better opportunity than back home and you get to meet new people,” said 13-year-old Malakye Walford from Walgett.
“Josh comes in every Tuesday and comes in some days and just kicks back with us, he does fitness one week with us and then he does gym.
The hostel manager maintains the boys have responded dramatically to the new program run by Starling.
“The response and the positive feedback I have from community members whether it be Central Charlestown their local football Club, Cardiff High School or Hunter Sports, I’ve had no trouble,” explained Lane-Porter.
“The change in a few kids that were probably heading down the wrong track has been significant, I’ve got kids now making Newcastle rep teams when it comes to rugby league and touch football teams so the change is absolutely amazing."