The opportunity to work on HEART, a 12 week pilot employment training program for Yolngu men and women from Homeland communities in north-east Arnhem Land was incredible. Working with families, the participants, Traditional Owners, Elders, employers and along the way, a growing number of supporters, was humbling, exciting and so very different.
Coming past the Blackall cattle yards readying for sale are the buildings and grounds of the Blackall Wool Scour. It is striking. It is simple, functional and elegant. It represents the opportunities and optimism of the wool industry over a century ago. Those who sought to realise this potential had at their core service and adding value to a developing industry as it was then.
Recruitment can be a complex task for an organisation. For those looking for work or training opportunities, it can feel daunting, even stressful. If your first language is not English, or you haven’t been in the workforce before, those challenges are even greater. Discovery turns this on its head.
On reflection, ‘you should see my nuggets’ was not that much of a surprising welcome to Charters Towers. I had, after all, just come from the quaint and delightful Miner’s Cottage where I was extremely pleased with my purchase for my eldest boy. At 6 he is a keen rock and gem collector. His most recent bounty was from Cobbold Gorge and Forsayth following an adventure on the Savannahlander with his grandmother. Now it was my turn to add to the collection. I was in Charters Towers for the annual Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network (QRRRWN) conference. This was the second time I had attended. Last year it was in Blackall and along with my boys then 3 and 5, we drove from Sydney to Blackall via Cunnumulla and Charleville for a taste of the outback. For both my boys this has instilled a love for and respect of rural Australia.
They could have said no but they didn’t and the Blackall community opened up to us. I was attending the 20th annual Queensland Regional, Rural and Remote Women’s Network conference in September. I brought my two sons. My eldest was in his first year of school in Sydney. Kirstie from the Blackall State School answered my call. She was also part of the conference organising committee. She understood and put me in touch with Miss Ross, of Prep R. Emails followed and a plan came together.
Blackall State School was so generous in its welcome of my son and of us. For his stay they planned an excursion to show my city based son the origins of the town and region at Ram Park. They organised a whip cracking demonstration by young students who were nowhere near as tall as the whips they artfully wielded. They assigned him a buddy. My son’s name was even on the whiteboard about what was happening during the week. And to add to his delight, a Tuck Shop lunch was ordered.