Tag Archives: NASCA

2011, what a year!

It’s been a very long time since my last blog post. So much has happened that’s kept me away from my keyboard and blogging! Perhaps I’ll start with what is most distracting to me right now… a 9 week old kitten desperately trying to jump on the kitchen table as I type, excited at the thought that my fast typing fingers might be potential play things. She’s ready to pounce.

Rogue: the new little kitten in my partner’s and my life. She’s been a wondrous blessing and gain to our lives, even in her 5 short weeks since joining us. If you’re wondering, no, we did not plan on having a kitten. She was a baby stray found crossing a busy road, who’s mum was likely to have met an unpleasant end. She now has a lovely safe home with her two new mums.

Speaking of her two mums, we went to a political rally last Saturday to support marriage equality. It’s amazing that in this day and age we are still fighting for such basic civil rights as marriage equality (not to mention true recognition of Australia’s first peoples in our Constitution!) At least the result has been that Labor changed it’s platform at the recent party conference – though unfortunately including a “conscience vote” that is usually only implemented when politics decides on life and death issues. Hmmm, funny that conscience votes aren’t allowed when we consider whether we’ll go to war. Pretty sure that’s about life and death. Some chicks marry chicks, some dudes marry dudes. Get over it!

Now, back to other change, with my political rant over.

I’ve had the amazing experience of attending the Garma Festival in Gulkula (East Arnhem Land). I had the privilege of attending with Reconciliation Australia’s women’s group, and met a fantastic group of ladies. It was a truly special experience, both professionally and personally, and I highly recommend anyone who has the change head out!

I’ve also enjoyed two more amazing “ARMtour” trips with NASCA. ARMtour stands for Athletes as Role Models tour, and NASCA is the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (where I work). Both trips have been fantastic, with this latest trip to Papunya being a beautiful emotional journey of family connection. My uncle worked out there 30 years ago and played an instrumental role is setting up the medical service for the Pintabi people. It was beautiful to meet people who he had worked with in the past, and feel what high regard they still held him in. It was also fantastic and amazing to spend the week working with the kids in school, helping them with literacy and numeracy, and overall excitement to attend class. I highly recommend you check out the website (www.nasca.com.au). And if you’re in the Christmas giving spirit, share a few dollars to a fantastic cause.

On the whole it’s been a massive year of change, an exciting year of opportunity, and a beautiful year for love and family. I can’t say I’ll be sad to see the end of 2011, as it’s also been fairly exhausting, but I can safely say I’m a far better person for having lived fully this year.

Happy Christmas, happy New Year, and best wishes for a happy, successful and loving 2012.

ARMTour in Ntaria

What a brilliant week! I have just had a magical experience, and feel so grateful for the opportunity.

I spent this past week out as an athlete role model on the ARMTours trip to the Northern Territory. It’s a programme run by NASCA (National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy) and it involves sending athletes out into Aboriginal communities to serve as role models for the students.

Our job was to support the students in their education during school hours, and engage actively with them through sport afterschool. It was fabulous! I visited Ntaria and was lucky enough to go on a school excursion with a group of students on the first day. We had the opportunity to learn about bush medicine and bush tucker.  Lilly, our teacher for the day, brewed us up some drinking medicine, and it certainly was potent! It was specifically for combating flu, and I reckon I’ll give it a go next time I feel the early signs of a flu (and maybe even a cold?).

I spent a lot of the next few days with the littlies – the pre-school and transition kids. What a great way to spend the day! Play-doh, colouring, singing songs and piecing puzzles together. I simply fell in love with every student in the class, especially when they shared their big smiles whilst playing in the sand pit and kicking a soccer ball around during recess!

The evening of the second night in community the Ntaria ARMTours team headed out to Palm Valley for a gorgeous camp out in the national park. The NT is super green right now after all the rain, with an interesting consequence of a mouse plague! Needless to say I was far happier sleeping in a swag with a mossy net built in. Kept those little critters out of my bedding!

The next day was spent with some of the older students in a cooking class, and then doing a big of design with students during their computers class. That afternoon the Ntaria Roos (as we – the ARMTours team in Ntaria – decided to name ourselves) cooked up a storm and helped the school provide an all community BBQ (interesting job cooking meat for a vego!).  We later gave out awards for the students who had been outstanding in their attention in class, teamwork, attendance, or leadership.

The Ntaria trip was wrapped up with a fantastic session swimming with about 60-70 of the students at the Alice Springs swimming pool, and having an all round brilliant time.

The Ntaria team then met up with the other ARMTours team members who had gone to different communities for a group camp out and BBQ. It was a fabulous opportunity to share stories, learn from the other community experiences, and sleep out under the beautiful NT stars.

I can’t wait for the next opportunity to head out with the ARMTours team!

If you’re curious about the programme, or about NASCA, check out www.nasca.com.au.


Aurukun, A Second Visit

There is something truly magical about Aurukun, Qld. The dusty red earth, the magical and ancient bush, the wild river, and the kind hearted people: it certainly holds a special place in my heart.

Aurukun has also had a profound affect on me. The two occasions that I’ve had the opportunity to visit and spend time in community I’ve felt myself connect with my soul’s energy, shake off the noise and distraction of day-to-day life, and feel a beautiful stillness and clarity within myself. It’s a gift I am grateful to receive from Aurukun, and I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to offer gifts in return – inspiring local kids about the Olympics, playing in a swimming hole with them (equally a gift for me – if not more so!), and just being friendly and chatting with people while walking through town.

That’s not to say that Aurukun doesn’t have its issues. There is significant domestic violence, nowhere near enough housing, a severe lack of employment opportunities and self-empowerment, drugs and alcohol are highly problematic even though it’s a “dry community”, and most nights packs of camp dogs can be heard fighting or howling. It’s a strange and saddening dichotomy, which never fails to truly inspire me to the kindness and strength of the human spirit given that genuine acts of kindness occur under such challenging and often desperate circumstances.

It’s this beauty of the human spirit faced with such unnecessarydisempowerment and challenge that has made me passionately want to work within the field of Indigenous rights in Australia, and to use my skills and experience to help to provide opportunities that may otherwise be unavailable.

Next week I’m off to Ntaria in the Northern Territory with the ARMTours programme (Athletes as Role Models). It’s a programme run by NASCA (the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy). I’ll have the opportunity to spend about a week in community working within a team of role models, and engaging with young people in community through education, sport, and other activities. I’m really excited!

But for now, one thing I really want to say is thank you to my lovely friend Gen. It’s through her generosity and hospitality that I’ve had the opportunity to experience the beauty and challenge of Aurukun, and connect with this deep passion within myself. It’s through her strength of character, integrity, and genuine kindness that ensured she was deeply respected in Aurukun, and that as an extension of her I was welcomed kindly by many local members of community.

Thanks Gen xx