Emerging Victorian fast bowler Courtney Neale recently travelled to a remote Indigenous community in central Australia through Red Dust Role Models. To celebrate National Reconciliation Week we’re excited for her to share her experiences from the Red Centre.
Learning about and immersing myself in Indigenous culture is something I have always been passionate about. I was lucky enough to be offered an amazing opportunity with Red Dust Role Models to set off into remote central Australia to a remote Indigenous community called Yuendumu. This small town is located approximately 3 hours north-west of Alice Springs, with a population of just under 1,000 people.
Red Dust Role Models is filled with wonderful and talented individuals who make it their mission to create lasting positive relationships with remote communities. By promoting health, growing culture and building on existing well-being programs. I spent the week getting to know all these new faces in both the community and the Red Dust Role Models team.
This week would have to be one of the most memorable and moving weeks of my life. I went into this trip with an open mind and the belief that I had something to offer – that I can have an impact. I was exposed to some of the most beautiful art and I purchased a piece for my 21st birthday. I listened to Dreamtime stories and spoke to elders about their culture and the history of the land. I was shown up by what seemed to be an endless quantity of kids, most half my age, in basketball, football, soccer, running and most other things. I tried my hardest to learn the local Walpri language. Yet the best part was meeting some of the happiest, curious, cheeky kids from the school. Their morning hugs, cheeky remarks, high fives, insatiable laughter and big grinned smiles warm your heart.
One of the many special moments of the trip was when Ezekiel, a year 6 boy, came up to me out of a crowd at the school swimming carnival. He had the most gorgeous smile on his face with blonde tips through his curly hair. He had come to give me a big long hug and to say ‘good try, you did really well’ after I came last in a swimming race. It’s the little moments like these, that you remember forever.
Yet after experiencing all of this throughout the week I came to the conclusion that actually, most of the impact was from the community on me, not the other way around. I learnt how passionate I am that Australia and the rest of the world learns about and understands these amazing, inspiring people, who they are and what they stand for. Thanks to Yuendumu I now know that it is my role to educate and speak out about what I know and what I have learnt. This really is how I will make my impact.
To learn more about Red Dust Role Models click here.