Heart of the Kimberley
Halls Creek is a remote mining service town in Western Australia, situated in the heart of the state’s Kimberley region. Halls Creek is located on the Great Northern Highway and is the only sizeable town for 600km; the nearest major town, Kununurra, is a four hour drive away.
The town has a rich Aboriginal history, with Aboriginal peoples having lived in the region for more than 30,000 years. Today Aboriginal people account for more than 67% of its 1,500 person population and the region is home to the Jaru and Kija peoples.
Working in and with the community
In 2010, after a successful pilot program, we embarked on an ambitious long-term project in Halls Creek. We came to Halls Creek through a fortuitous meeting with former Board member Sciona Browne, who at the time was the Halls Creek Better Life Project Manager. At the time of our arrival, much funding and effort was being put into engaging boys through sport-based programs such as Clontarf Football Academy, while the girls had been somewhat left behind.
While town elders were interested in our program and its aims, in the beginning they weren’t convinced the program would last. They had seen too many programs roll into town promising great things, only to lose steam and disappear quickly. Many years later, we have kept our promise to the Halls Creek community – gaining their respect and support in the process. As well as delivering our own content, we now partner with the Kimberley Language Resource Centre to include the local Aboriginal languages Jaru and Kija into our program delivery.
A strong partnership with Halls Creek District High School
Our Halls Creek participants are students at the main school in town, Halls Creek District High School (HCDHS). HCDHS is a Kindergarten to Year 12 school with over 350 students, of which 96% are Aboriginal.
Our Halls Creek program focuses on girls in grades 5 and above. While we have a focus on girls, we work with all students in Kindergarten to Year 4 and community groups at the town’s Child and Parent Centre. We also support the work of Shooting Stars, an engagement initiative of Netball WA, who work within the Halls Creek community as well.
We make four week-long visits to the town each year, with one visit organised per school term. A typical week in Halls Creek sees us undertaking at least 24 hours of program delivery with participants aged 0-16.
Celine’s story – returning to the Perth Concert Hall seven years later
From the beginning it was clear to the g-oz team that the Travel Program could be life-changing for the girls involved. In 2017, Celine Tait (former HCDHS student) attended the AGC’s Annual Concert at the Perth Concert Hall to watch the girls from Halls Creek perform. Backstage after the concert, she reminisced about her own experience on the first ever g-oz Travel Program.
“The first time I went was in 2010 and it was a good experience. It was my first time out of home and travelling to Melbourne was a big thing for me. Girls from Oz taught me to have fun. To just get along with everyone. They taught me to have the confidence that I have now. I really enjoyed Girls from Oz back then even though it was about singing and dancing, but it taught me about skills, as in my confidence and talking. I really enjoyed it. Watching the younger generation that I see now, it really changed my view. That I was once the little girl that they are now. For me, seeing that, it just makes me feel happy.”
Celine is currently studying at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and is one of three Halls Creek District High School and Girls from Oz alumni based at St Catherine’s College. g-oz has been collaborating with St Catherine’s College for many years and we’re committed to working together to provide clear pathways to further education and employment as well as support for the girls.
- Wonita EdwardsPast g-oz participant - Halls Creek District High School“It has made me feel more confident to meet more people and to do more performing. I want to be a doctor and g-oz made me think I can do anything.”
- Justine WiltshireParent of g-oz participant - Halls Creek“Since you have started to come to HCDHS the girls have grown in confidence and belief in themselves. This experience has opened their eyes to the future and that dreams have given life in their hearts that they aren’t limited by where they live, but dreams can become a reality."
- Emily Alecg-oz participant - Halls Creek District High School“When I first started Girls from Oz I was a really shy kid. When they came I started building my confidence and came out of my shell.”
- Darren FoynesParent of Halls Creek student“I am 100% behind g-oz. It gives them opportunity to develop not just in sport, not just in art, but it helps them develop holistically as young women and gives them another avenue to develop their own life.”