The January school holidays were a special time for 16 students from Derby District High School who spent 11 glorious days in sunny Perth. The students were members of the remote, Indigenous community of Mowanjum.
This is the fourth time Derby students have travelled from the West Kimberly to Perth to experience a different way of life, away from the bush. Their journey to Perth is a long one – 4 500km on a bus with several stops, which included an overnight stay at Port Hedland Uniting Church and Karalundi School in Meekatharra, before reaching their destination: Ern Halliday campsite at Hillarys, Perth.
The excursion was hosted by the Boab Network based at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church, which have been running school holiday programs in Mowanjum for 10 years. There are many reasons why the trip is important for Mowanjum.
“It gives them a well-deserved break from some of the social issues that surround them at home and shows them that there are other ways to live,” said Marie Yunken, secretary of the Boab Network.
She said that students are given the opportunity to learn to live together and be considerate of others – both within and outside the group.
This year the kids, aged 12 to 16, were treated to an amazing line-up of activities. In addition to the usual type of school holiday activities such as BBQs, movies and camping, they had a blast learning how to make plaster casts and had an educational experience at the University of Western Australia’s School of Indigenous Study; visited the 50th floor of the Rio Tinto tower – the tallest building in Perth; attended CircusWA, a circus school to learn circus skills; learnt how to kayak in Crawley and so much more.
Volunteers and generous donors worked hard to ensure the students had a good time. Other organisations involved were the Department of Sport and Recreation, who gave them a flying fox training session and an underground caving course on the camp site.
Volunteers from the Indigenous Communities Education and Awareness (ICEA) group also took part with their trailer of surfboards, skill and enthusiasm.
If you would like to volunteer, be part of or simply know more about the Boab Network’s work with the Mowanjum community, contact Marie Yucken on 0410 061 279 or visit www.boabnetwork.org.