Work for the Dole participants clean up the Clarence
THEY'RE not afraid of a little hard work at the EnviTE Work for the Dole program.
Yaegl man Ferlin Laurie said they've been working in their own country, which has helped some of the younger Aboriginal men in the program learn about their culture.
"It's keeping them out of the streets and it's making them feel good about themselves because they're getting out of bed every morning," he said.
There are many reasons why people are on the dole, but for Mr Laurie, it's his role as a site worker for the Yaegl community that makes it difficult for him to work full-time.
"I go out and do the sites for the highway upgrade... when I get called out and see what the council works or see a tree that needs to be looked at or an important site, or Romiaka when it got shut down because they found the shell middens, I told them about that," he said.
This work for the dole program gives him the opportunity to get out into the community and give back.
Mr Laurie said he wants people to know that they aren't all "dole bludgers'" and they are contributing to the community.
"The boys love it, they love the environment ... it's all part of their country," he said.
"I'm trying to say to the young fellas, there are opportunities, grab them while you can and learn as much as you can about the environment because back in the day we already knew about it, what season was what, when things would flower when the fish was out ... slowly it will come back to them."
The team has been restoring parks and reserves in Maclean, Iluka, Yamba and Tucabia, where they were upgrading the Weeping Paperback Reserve, and they have planted natives and rejuvenated the areas.
EnviTE Environment's Phil Penberthy was supervising the project and said the program has been instrumental in assisting disadvantaged job seekers gain work skills and experience.