The Yuendumu Diaries - Alicia Janz

The Yuendumu Diaries - Alicia Janz

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Late last year, a group of six footballers took a trip to the remote town of Yuendumu, located three hours north-west of Alice Springs, to take part in a Red Dust health promotion tour, through the AFL Players Care program. As part of the trip, Trent Dumont, Courtney Cramey, Jarman Impey, Nick Larkey, Alicia Janz and Ally Anderson documented their experiences for aflplayers.com.au. Over the course of the next week, you can read about what they learned and experienced. Here is Alicia’s diary entry. 

ALICIA JANZ – THURSDAY, October 17

I’m a Torres Strait Islander so culture and history is really important to me. I was actually born in the Northern Territory, my family lived in Lajamanu –  near Yuendumu – so I really wanted to go there and connect back with the Country where life started for me.

My profession involves mentoring Indigenous youth in schools, so it’s very similar to what I’m passionate about and what I do in my everyday life.

I also wanted to learn more about the local Culture from Warlpiri people.

Australia is like Europe, there are so many different countries that live within our continent and every one of them has their own traditions.

I didn’t know what I would get from the visit. I just wanted to learn anything the locals wanted to share.

One of the biggest things I got from the experience was how the non-indigenous teachers at the school incorporated Aboriginal ways of life within their class.

Coming from a city in Australia where Aboriginal people are the minority in classrooms, it was quite interesting to see how different that was in the community and how the teachers adapted to that.

Thursday started differently to the other days because some of us camped out on Wednesday night.

I woke up in the morning and went and watched the sunrise at Juka Juka.

After that, we sat around the fire, had some food and yarned about the experience before driving back into town and heading to school.

The school day started with our usual sport activities with the kids. Afterwards the Red Dust crew headed to the local art centre, Warlukurlangu, where just about everyone bought an Indigenous painting.

After another big day at the school with the kids, Alan bought some wooden branches back to our accommodation. A few of us sat outside as the sun went down, carving them into clap sticks, playing music and yarning about life.

On Thursday night, our last night in Yuendumu, we went to the town oval and kicked the footy with some of the adults. Once it got dark, we stopped by the local rec centre which was absolutely booming. There were kids and adults all under the one roof, playing all kinds of sport – cricket, footy, basketball, Frisbee, all with music blaring through speakers late into the night.

Trent Dumont, a few others and I played a four-on-four basketball game with a handful of local teenagers. Fair to say we were never in it.

There were so many moments that meant a lot and some that I’ll remember forever. But one of the more enjoyable moments was hanging with the kids at the local swimming pool.

Seeing the happiness on the kids’ faces and being able to compete and play around with them, without being too rough, was awesome.

There were some confronting moments too. The realisation that there are a lot of services and job opportunities available for community that have staff outsourced from elsewhere. It makes you wonder whether there’s an opportunity to empower or upskill locals for those roles and have them empowering their own community.

The trip really was a once in a lifetime experience. From this trip, the bonding that we made with the people that came along was amazing and its sad that we have to go our separate ways.

A lot of what we learnt, you can’t learn from anywhere else – you have to physically be there and experience it for yourself. It only went for a week but it felt like a year’s worth of experiences.

What do you think?

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