The Student Leadership Programme

Matilda Harry has unforgettable experience volunteering in the Northern Territory (Hawkesbury Gazette)

Whilst most of the class of 2016 joined together to party, drink and get up to mischief in the Gold Coast and Bali, I was lucky enough to be involved in a grounding and rewarding experience, together with a group of 20 other privileged young leaders from the Hawkesbury and Hills district.

Dominic Perrottet’s Hawkesbury-Hills Student Leadership Programme provided the opportunity to travel to Uluru-Ayers Rock in the Northern Territory to complete service work and learn alongside the students and staff at Nyangatjatara College.

The college is the only secondary education provider in the Northern Territory south of Alice Springs and their aim is to have every child across three remote communities attending school and learning every day.

The students are of the Anangu people and culture.

Pitjantjatjara is their first language; with English generally being the fifth or sixth language they speak,.

The cultural differences between us were magnified and added to the difficulty when learning the necessary literacy and numeracy skills under the NSW syllabus.

Our service work included painting, gardening and general maintenance, whilst also being immersed within the school community.

We learnt just as much – if not more – than the students.

As a HSC student, it is very easy to get caught up in textbooks. This trip broadened our horizons and we gained an awareness of the inequities faced by Indigenous people.

Whether it be watching the sunset behind Uluru in Kata Tjuta National Park, throwing a footy with the students, eating witchetty grubs, honey ants and bush tomato, playing cricket on the side of the road when the cars battery was flat, learning dance moves from the girls, changing tyres and assisting with learning in the classroom, the Hawkesbury-Hills Student Leadership Programme offered many learning experiences never to be forgotten.

I would like to thank the Anangu people of the Mutitjulu and Docker River communities for welcoming us onto their land and sharing their culture, traditions, stories and hardships. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity because I made lifelong friendships and developed my leadership skills.