A chance to walk with each other during restricted times

A chance to walk with each other during restricted times
June 29, 2020 Christine Semerdjian

Girls from Oz has been visiting the community of Halls Creek in the Kimberley for one week every term since 2010. That’s every term 21 terms in a row. Nothing stopped us, until COVID-19.

As a city-based organisation, with team members who fly in and fly out of the communities we work in, the consistency with which we turn up is incredibly important. It’s important to the children and teenagers we work with, it’s important to their Mums, Aunties, Nanas and teachers, and it’s what has enabled us to build trust with our participants and the communities they live in.

Still singing and dancing in Halls Creek

Despite the restrictions we all faced during term 2, Halls Creek District High School Deputy Principal Rachel Stamatovic and her team joined forces with our team and our incredibly talented colleagues at the Australian Girls Choir to provide 6 brave and talented girls from Halls Creek the opportunity to be involved in the recording and filming of Walk With Me, a clip for reconciliation.

Amah, Lynley, DJ, Chloe, Skye and Brooke have each been involved in the g-oz program in Halls Creek in different ways, some since they were in kindergarten. At the beginning of term 2, and with the help of their teachers and Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers at school, they learned the song Walk With Me, practised singing it until they felt confident, recorded it as a solo audio track and eventually braved the camera and were filmed.

Amah’s g-oz journey started when she was in kindergarten in the first year of the g-oz program in 2010, and after excellent attendance at school and participation in the g-oz community program, she was chosen to participate in our Perth Travel program in 2017 and our Melbourne one in 2018. Chloe Martin Cox has also been participating in g-oz activities since kindergarten and like Amah, travelled with g-oz to Perth in 2017 and Melbourne in 2018. Chloe has sung many solos with g-oz and continues to develop as a very beautiful singer. Says Chloe: “The most important part of g-oz is being a role model for the kids back in Halls Creek, so they can keep doing what they’re doing and follow their dreams. They can be a role model to the next kids.”

Amah (top right) and Skye (bottom left)

Lynley Foynes benefitted from her two older sister role models. Both Petra and Nikki participated in the g-oz program and after watching their involvement, Lynley didn’t want to miss out on the fun. Lynley has now travelled with g-oz to Melbourne in 2018, and to Sydney in 2019 where she performed onstage at the Sydney Opera House. Now Lynley’s the role model.

Lynley singing a solo at the Sydney Opera House during the 2019 Travel Program

Another role model to the younger students at Halls Creek District High School is School Captain DJ Calwyn. DJ was one of the g-oz leaders on the 2019 Travel Program and spoke about her country and culture onstage at the Sydney Opera House. DJ aspires to work as a nurse, midwife or doctor but also loves to sing and dance. And so does Brooke who has a beautiful singing voice and has sung in a number of key g-oz performances and projects in recent years. 2019 was a big year for Brooke. She sang a duet alongside Australian Girls Choir chorister Laura at the Ord Valley Muster and then also joined the group who travelled to Sydney in November.

DJ on the 2018 Travel Program to Melbourne.

Skye’s g-oz story is a bit different from the other girls because she’s been living with her family in Kununurra in recent years. Skye’s Mum Carolyn was working at Halls Creek District High School when we first visited in 2010 and quickly became one of our most relied upon supporters. Carolyn travelled with the g-oz group on the inaugural November Travel Program to Sydney in 2010, along with Skye’s big sister Kate. Skye has lots of wonderful (and musical) female role models in her life and was one of the stand out singers in the Walk With Me clip!

 

Chloe (top left) and Brooke (bottom right)

While we are currently unable to visit the girls in Halls Creek, nor those in our programs in Carnarvon and Lockhart River, we are working behind the scenes to continue to provide opportunities and to get ready for the return to our consistent and stable presence in the girls’ lives. Later this year, in November, we’re hoping to invite 26 girls from Halls Creek, Carnarvon and Lockhart River to Melbourne for a week full of educational, employment and vocational activities.

We’re seeking your help to make it happen, by either donating to a Giving Circle, or committing to a monthly donation, so we can continue to create life changing opportunities to women and girls in remote Australia.

Donate here: www.givenow.com.au/girlsfromoz

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