MORE chance to be on Country and immersed in culture with other young Aboriginal peers can "change lives", Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative's chief executive says. A two-night camp in Creswick this week, drawing about 80 Indigenous children and teenagers from the Ballarat region, was made possible with fundraising and grants. BADAC chief executive Karen Heap said too often Indigenous youth funding was focused on justice and crime prevention rather than on positive ways for young people to build connections with each other and culture. This comes as Central Highlands Water has made the largest donation to BADAC youth activities, gifting almost $15,000 from the sale of reusable stainless steel water bottles at Ballarat Begonia Festival last month. "The funding is hugely important and that sort of funding needs to be generated more. These are positive programs that are about changing lives for people," Ms Heap said. "Too much funding for Indigenous people is for youth justice - and that is important - but we need to make sure we have positive experiences, too." More than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in the Ballarat region are aged 24-and-under, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics census data. BADAC has a strategic focus on building culturally appropriate services for Indigenous children and to promote opportunities to help them grow up proud and healthy. Ms Heap said the experience at Creswick's Log Cabin Camp offered a sense of freedom on land and was culturally relevant. Boys had been collecting wood to craft into items such as clap sticks for an evening dance and to celebrate music. Girls had been set to practice some weaving for belts. BADAC camp-goer Kyeema told The Courier they were most looking forward to learning and practising dancing in the evening. Evie said it meant a lot to be together having fun. "Camp allows us to have cultural activities," she said. "It's good to be on Country and just being together." IN OTHER NEWS The donation will support Aboriginal children and young people to experience activities on Country they might otherwise had little access to do, such as swim with the dolphins in Queenscliff and visiting wildlife wonders at Conservation Ecology Centre, near Apollo Bay. Central Highlands Water managing director Jeff Haydon thanked everyone who had purchased a water bottle at Begonia Festival to support BADAC's works. Ms Heap also said the water bottles had a nice tie-in to caring for Country in helping to reduce waste. Have you tried The Courier's app? It can be downloaded here.