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 Courtney’s diary entry.
Courtney Cramey – Monday, October 14
I work in the justice system in South Australia and statistics show that Indigenous Australians have higher incarceration rates than non-indigenous Australians, so I supervise a lot of people who are from these communities and have seen how much their culture means to them.
But I’d never been out to a remote community before, so to get that experience and understanding was really beneficial both personally and professionally.
I went into the experience with my eyes and ears open and just wanted to learn more about the people, their culture and their history.
I loved hearing stories about their history and how they are interacting with other people outside their community as well.
Monday was the first day back after school holidays and we heard that it might be a struggle to get a lot of kids into class, so Ally Anderson and I went around to the community picking kids up from their houses and bringing them to school.
We got the football out and stood in front of some houses, and the kids saw the Red Dust shirts, with people holding a footy, and were keen to come along to class.
The days mostly revolved around soccer, basketball and footy in the morning, before classroom activities. I also spent time in the pre-school as well, trying to get the kids in the habits of blowing their nose, wiping their faces with wipes and putting sunscreen on – enforcing the importance of healthy habits.
Seeing the smile on the kids’ faces – they’re just so happy – is the most rewarding part. They ask you for help, they want to get to know you and it’s really cool.
On the first night, I was also given a ‘skin name’ by the elders, which is their way of welcoming you into the community, and, for me, understanding how that all works and being given my own name was special.
If anyone is thinking about doing something like this, I’d encourage them to do so.
Go into it with your eyes and ears open and get a real sense of the Aboriginal culture – it’s an unbelievable experience and one you’ll forever hold dear to your heart.