For the past 10 or so years, a small group of volunteers have been travelling to Arnhem Land (an indigenous region of the Northern Territory), where they spend up to six weeks over the summer period volunteering at a Youth and Recreation centre within a rural town. This year, as was most recently the case in 2018/19, volunteers will travel to Galiwinku, Elcho Island, an island off the coast of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory approximately 500 kilometres east of Darwin. Previously volunteers have travelled to other communities in the region.
Joe Hewitt (former Trinity Grammar School staff member) is the current headmaster of Shepherdson College (Galiwinku) and has been the liaison between the Old Trinity community and the Galiwinku community, however we have also formed a good relationship with the staff at the Youth Sport and Recreation Centre (YSRC).
During the summer months, once school is out and teaching staff have left the community, the towns children have much less to occupy themselves with during the day. With the loss of their weekly schedule, a lot of structure and regulation that is provided is no longer available. Many families in Galiwinku do not have the resources and capacity to care for, feed, teach, and entertain the children during the holidays. The Youth Sport and Recreation Centre (YSRC) is vital in providing children with structure, entertainment, food, and (at times) safety. Although there are permanent staff who manage the YSRC, assistance from volunteers contributes to children’s wellbeing and provides much needed relief from what can often be a demanding role.
The YSRC run a holiday program consisting of an array of sports and recreation activities including basketball, sports games at the local oval, painting, movie nights, and day trips. You will assist in facilitating these activities, including set up, supervising, participating, pack up, feeding the kids, cleaning the sports hall etc. Attendees of the program range in age from 4 to 18.
Outside of youth centre hours the volunteers are integrated into the community and often become close with the local families and others within the community. Volunteers will often arrange to have a few days off per week where they are able to explore the region, go fishing, and relax. Volunteers will often be invited to attend cultural ceremonies, and activities, Christmas festivals and parades, and other local events while in Galiwinku.
Some facts about Galiwinku
• Situated near the southern tip of Elcho Island, off the cost of NT
• Largest Aboriginal community in Northeast Arnhem Land
• Second largest Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory
• Over 2,200 residents
• There are up to 60 hereditary tribal groups, with up to 22 different dialects being used in the community
• Dry community (alcohol is totally banned)
Darwin --> Maningrida --> Elcho Island (Galwin’ku)
Volunteers will fly from Melbourne to Darwin where they will catch a connecting flight to Elcho Island, via Maningrida. We recommend volunteers arrive during the final week of the school term, prior to when the kids and local staff begin their summer vacation. This overlap is useful in allowing volunteers to introduce themselves to local staff while becoming familiar with the community.
While in Galiwinku, volunteers are provided with a comfortable housing arrangement in the school’s staff houses, which are left vacant by teaching staff during the holidays. Volunteers will be provided with a Troopy for transport.
Costs - Airfares are likely to cost $1,200 - $1,500 travelling with Airnorth. We recommend booking with Airnorth directly.
Food - Groceries will need to be purchased as usual. There are two small supermarkets in the town. Prices are slightly higher than in Melbourne due to the remoteness of the island. Split between the group, food will not be too expensive. We would recommend allowing around $100 per week for food.
Accommodation -Will be free of charge as you will be housesitting teachers housing or staying in vacant accommodation.
There is the possibility of financial support from OTGA however please do not rely on this when applying as this position may change from year to year.
Dates Recommended Dates are Below: Arrival – 12th December (school finishes on Friday 13th) Departure – 24th-27th January (school begins on Tuesday 28th)
• Climate - Galwin’ku is hot and humid, all day, every. Expect an average temperature of 33 degrees and sunny.
• The work can be mentally and physically exhausting
• You will be away from Melbourne for an extended period of time
• The environment, way of life, culture and social norms are foreign, and at times confronting
• Many stray dogs roam the streets, and could be a hazard
• The trip is long, and the location is isolated. If for any reason during the program you would like to leave it may be expensive and difficult to arrange
• Despite these obstacles, it is an incredibly rewarding and once in a lifetime experience. You will receive a great reception from the community because of the role you are undertaking, which is to facilitate a program
This is an extended invite to the Old Trinity Grammar community for expressions of interest to participate as a volunteer in the 2019/20 Galiwinku program.
If you would like to volunteer in Galiwinku this summer, please submit a short one page letter (up to 500w) outlining the reasons for your interest in the program and why you think you would be a suitable volunteer to the email address below, by the 1st September.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Application Due: September 1 2019
A panel of previous volunteers will review the submitted applications. With experience and knowledge of the community in mind, a group will be selected who will be best suited to navigate the challenges inherent to the program. Applicants will need to be open minded, proactive and able to adapt to the testing conditions and environment.
If you have any further enquiries, questions, and comments, please contact Darcy Taylor, Ben Mitton, Hugh Curnow, or Danny Smith on Facebook or alternatively email the address above.