MEN OF HONOUR: Students taking part in the Rite of Passage ceremony, currently being held on the saltpans of Maaroom in Poona National Park.
MEN OF HONOUR: Students taking part in the Rite of Passage ceremony, currently being held on the saltpans of Maaroom in Poona National Park. Contributed

SAVING LIVES: Ancient ceremony where boys become men

ARNE Rubinstein couldn't be prouder to see a group of boys become men of honour.

Fearing many young indigenous Australians will fall off the rails without proper guidance, Dr Rubinstein and Butchulla Elder Glen Miller pledged to create a unique program to help the young men find out what it takes to become a real man.

After years of deliberation, 20 indigenous and non-indigenous boys from four local high schools, along with their significant male role models, are attending a coming-of-age ceremony on the saltpans of Maaroom in Poona National Park.

The ceremony, held between July 31 and August 4, is the second of its kind in 200 years.

 

MEN OF HONOUR: Students taking part in the Rite of Passage ceremony, currently being held on the saltpans of Maaroom in Poona National Park.
MEN OF HONOUR: Students taking part in the Rite of Passage ceremony, currently being held on the saltpans of Maaroom in Poona National Park. Contributed

A collaborative effort between Butchulla Men's Business, the Rites of Passage Institute and WYLD Projects, the aim of the ceremony is to help the young men transition into adulthood.

Dr Rubinstein, CEO of the Rites to Passage Institute, said the program helped the boys develop a vision of "the best men they could be".

He said the boys would undergo challenges and would need to identify what behaviours they needed to let go of to become men.

"It's all about supporting boys to become good young men and stop them from going off the rails," Dr Rubinstein said.

 

Mr Miller said the idea was to "re-create broken songlines."

"Over the coming years, we will make this process ours by embedding more Butchulla perspectives," he said.