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Balgo Hills, Western Australia

Block Builder

 

Balgo Hills is a small community with a population of approx. 600.  It lies in the Kimberley region of Western Australia almost 260km from the nearest major town and south of Halls Creek.  It lies on the northern edge of the Great Sandy Desert and on the western edge of the Tanami Desert. An hour's drive from the NT border where climatic conditions are harsh with summer temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius. 

Luurnpa Catholic School comprises of a K-8 school and a Trade Training Centre. Volunteers take part in community living, Christian mission and high impact work for the disadvantaged Wirrimanu Aboriginal Community. This remote placement offers exposure to Aboriginal culture and demanding volunteer work. Balgo lacks work opportunities and recreational activities for adolescents and adults, which contribute to substance abuse, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy. This presents challenging behaviours and social issues at Balgo that are continually addressed.

Volunteers require emotional stability, great flexibility and resilience. A Lasallian Volunteer would need to build relationships with Aboriginal youth and families in the community. Volunteers may face challenges relating to multilingual children, remote locality (one shop with limited goods); cooking; limited recreational services. There is a clinic with a doctor, nurses and availability of the Flying Doctor Service.  

 

Responsibilities:

  • Support individual students and assist in classes with literacy and numeracy.

  • Promote sports participation: football, basketball, rounders etc. before and after school, at recess and lunch.

  • Coordinate the Mangarri (food) program at school; breakfast club, nutritious lunches for students.

  • Work in various activities; music, breakfast program, art, dance, photography, cooking.

  • Assist at the Trade Training Centre in literacy, numeracy, hospitality and carpentry classes.

  • Support the youth minister with various activities. 

  • Work with youth in the community in recreation; after-school sport; school disco etc.

  • Assist with pool supervision and maintenance.

  • Help in keeping grounds attractive: mowing; maintaining the vegetable garden; rubbish removal; irrigating; tree-planting; cleaning; refuelling.

  • General cleaning of vehicles.

  • Contribute to the parish life of the community, including writing and distributing the "Mirli Mirli" newsletter.

  • Attending staff meetings.

 

Challenges

Living in a remote location; low speed internet; being a long way from family and friends; learning to live with others you have never met before; managing the difficult behaviour of some students. Budgeting for groceries and daily living expenses, cooking and domestic chores.

 

Rewards:

Supporting students with challenging lives; a greater appreciation of Aboriginal culture; including; dreaming stories, bush tucker, hunting, going 'out on country'.  Experiencing cultural activities and celebrations; developing relationships with students; beautiful scenery; experiencing a part of Australia not many people get to see.