Providing aspirational opportunities
The Travel Program is the highlight and a key component of our program. This annual program offers the opportunity for our most engaged participants in each program location to be selected to travel to a major metropolitan city. The Travel Program itinerary is designed to provide the participants with unique opportunities; to expand horizons in the performing arts, but moreover, to encourage participants to consider their own future educational and employment pathways, in whatever profession they choose.
During their week away from home, the participants undertake educational and mentoring activities, explore further study options and career paths and share in cultural exchange with peer-aged members of the Australian Girls Choir (AGC) and their families.
Just like the overall g-oz program itself, selection to take part in the Travel Program is not talent based. Girls are selected by participating and engaging in our program throughout the year, displaying respectful behaviour and attitude in both g-oz sessions and at school generally, and meeting attendance requirements set by their schools.
Since 2010, more than 100 girls have travelled to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth or Sydney as part of the program. The Travel Program gives our participants an incentive to commit to our program and their schooling, as well as affording them the chance to explore opportunities outside their local communities. Selection to travel is something that many of our younger participants are aspiring to, as they have heard stories from their aunties, older sisters and cousins who have participated in a travel program.
Opening up a world of opportunity, new experiences and new ways of thinking
The program consists of a variety of performing arts and education based activities. Highlights have included:
- Workshops with NAISDA Dance College, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydney Dance Company, Chunky Move, Robert Sturrock Industry Dance Company, Australian Dance Theatre, Gospo, Ochre Contemporary Dance Company and Queensland Ballet
- Exploring potential career paths at Google Australia, the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence, Westpac, The Lonsdale Group and Deloitte
- Educational visits to Hymba Yumba, Eora College at Sydney TAFE, the CUBE at Queens University of Technology, QLD Fire Women’s Cricket Team, The Wilin Centre at the Victorian College of the Arts and St Catherine’s College at the University of Western Australia
- Mentoring sessions with Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience
- Performances at the Indigenous Pathways Forum, Government House (WA) and 100 Women Annual Gala
- Interviews with 93.7FM Koori Radio, Noongar Radio and 3CR Community Radio
- Attending performances of Mary Poppins, King Kong, Matilda, Aladdin, The Wizard of Oz and Cirque Du Soleil
- Two sleepovers at Admiralty House, the Governor-General’s residence
The participants also spend time rehearsing with members of the AGC as well as sightseeing and spending time with their host sisters.
Each trip culminates in a performance at the Australian Girls Choir Annual Concert where the girls present their own item as well as perform in the massed finale. Concerts are held in major performance venues around the country such as the Sydney Opera House, Hamer Hall, the Perth Concert Hall and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.
Ensuring positive outcomes
Approximately 74% of young Australians complete Year 12 or an equivalent. However, finishing rates are significantly lower for Indigenous Australians (44%) and students in remote locations (56%). In Halls Creek, fewer than 13% of their population have completed Year 11. In this context, the outcomes of our Travel Program are especially significant; 89% of participants are still engaged in education (including tertiary) or have successfully gained employment.
Facilitating cross-cultural learning
One of the unexpected and unplanned aspects of the Travel Program is the cross-cultural learning that has taken place between participants and their AGC host families. These families who agree to host welcome two g-oz participants into their home and family for a week.
People in metropolitan cities can tend to be unaware of the difficult circumstances that face young people, particularly young women, living in remote and regional Australia. While the g-oz participants experience a steep learning curve of the possibilities outside their towns, the AGC families similarly have the opportunity to learn about the issues, disadvantage and difficult circumstances these young women face.
- Madison Calwyng-oz participant - Halls Creek District High School“When I grow up I want to be an English teacher. My experience singing in the big city for a famous choir has made me more confident, helped me learn to work with others. I also know now that the school and my mum will support me to do anything and go anywhere.”
- Di TomazosFormer Deputy Principal - Halls Creek District High School"The girls’ family histories (stories passed down) and their first hand experiences had often led them to believe they would not be fully accepted by non-Aboriginal families. Without exception their experiences of the billeting process has been overwhelmingly positive. So good for everyone!”
- Larissa GrochTeacher - Halls Creek District High School“This week has been an amazing journey. Watching the students at the beginning of the week as shy and timid as can be in front of new people. At the end of the week they were performing in front of the Governor General and the Halls Creek community without shame and taking pride. The girls have grown so much this week and I can feel the strength that has been instilled in them."