Western Australia

All the world's greatest treasures!

By Celeste Larkins

Last week, Dane and I provided radio training at a camp for high achieving 10- and 11-year-old students who live in rural communities throughout the Mid West and Gascoyne. One student lived 200kms away from the nearest town on a cattle station with his family. It was a great opportunity for students to come together and socialise with other students of their age-level, as well as extend their learning. We facilitated a workshop to develop community service announcements (CSA) for Radio MAMA, who broadcast throughout the region. You could tell these students were from the ‘outback’ when their messages where around the themes of fire and road safety and environmental conservation. One student living on the coast in an area where many tourists visit developed this CSA around protecting coral and reef systems. We have never come across anyone so expressive!  

Education: a right for all children

By Celeste Larkins

Approximately 264 million children and adolescents around the world do not have the opportunity to enter or complete school. They dream of a life where they can have an education. Working in international development, we know education is a key factor in reducing the poverty cycle. 

In Australia, we are extremely lucky to have public education for all children, which is why it might sound surprising that in some communities, there are children missing out on years of school or even their entire schooling. This has huge ramifications for their future abilities to live a fulfilling purposeful life.

In Carnarvon, a small town we work, school non-attendance is high, and with the support of community, government and supporting organisations changing attitudes and the culture of schooling and education is a key priority area. 

There are many reasons why education is not a priority and after going on the school pick up bus you can see larger social issues which prevent children going to school exist. Run-down and insecure housing, family alcohol and other drug issues, lack of food security. Talking with locals, many of these social issues exist due to intergenerational trauma from past Government policies, including the Stolen Generation.

Children were taken from their families and to be brought up in institutions, fostered out or adopted by white families. Children lost their connection to family, culture, land and language. Not only does this contribute largely to current social issues within Aboriginal communities, but also has create a sense of distrust to ‘white’ education (AIATSIS).

However, with the support of the community, the school and the local Remote School Attendance Strategy team (who are part of Ngala Midwest & Gascoyne), there has been progress in supporting parents to get their children to school, and change the current perception. This takes a lot of dedicated people and a holistic approach to support families. Local leaders identify education is important for their community’s future, but are also passionate in passing down traditional culture. 

For the past few years we have been working with the Carnarvon community and the Remote School Attendance Strategy team to develop local video and radio content to promote school and education. We have spoken with Elders, right through to kindy students about what education means to them. Recently we developed a set of videos which the Carnarvon community engaged with and we had great feedback. You can check one of them out here

Violence is never okay

Day 10 of #16DaysofActivism

By Dane Waters

The keystone to transformational development is building trust and relationships. At HCR we endeavour to build trust with all people we work with, as we walk alongside communities. Trust is critical and particularly highlighted when working on family violence and women’s empowerment issues. In the Mid West, Western Australia we are continually confronted with family violence issues. Women who we have built trusting relationships with, come to us in all levels of distress due to family violence. As the Family Law Act 1995 in Australia states:

Domestic and family violence occurs when someone tries to control their partner or other family members in ways that intimidate or oppress them. Controlling behaviours can include threats, humiliation (‘put downs’), emotional abuse, physical assault, sexual abuse, financial exploitation and social isolations, such as not allowing contact with family or friends.

Women who have shared their stories with us have experienced controlling behaviours from physical assault to financial exploitation, and when victims come to us we support them to seek appropriate services. All women and men need to be empowered to stand up to all types of intimidating behaviour. Alongside supporting individual women, we also work with community champions and local services to develop community media strategies to help provide critical information to those in need with regards to family violence. This includes recording and broadcasting community service announcements about services available. We are passionate about working on this issue and making a stand, because violence is never okay.

All women and men need to be empowered to stand up to all types of intimidating behaviour.

All women and men need to be empowered to stand up to all types of intimidating behaviour.

Women: The Givers of Life

Day 7 of #16DaysofActivism

By Celeste Larkins

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of family violence than in the general population. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2018 report found Indigenous women were 32 times as likely to be hospitalised due to family and domestic violence than non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women are also less likely to report abuse. 

Indigenous people in Australia often have higher risk factors for family violence such as poor housing and overcrowding, financial difficulties, unemployment and social stressors. However, it needs to be clear that the perpetrators of this violence are both Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners.

Recently, an Aboriginal Elder spoke to me of his concerns of violence against women in the community. It saddened him, as traditional Aboriginal culture respects women as the givers of life, as nurturers, the same way Mother Nature gives and nurtures us. Both should be respected.

However, it’s evident after not only speaking with this Elder, but many more communities across the Mid West and Gascoyne of Western Australia, that the intergenerational trauma of the invasion of Australia has caused a major impact on the life and culture of the one of the oldest cultures in the world.

At HCR we work with Aboriginal communities to support them to develop their own health messages and campaigns which help deal with many of the risk factors for domestic and family violence. This approach allows local people to share their knowledge in a culturally relevant way for their local community.  

At HCR we work with Aboriginal people and support them to use their local knowledge, culture and language to develop health campaigns for their local community.

At HCR we work with Aboriginal people and support them to use their local knowledge, culture and language to develop health campaigns for their local community.


Wanggamanha (speaking) Wajarri

By Celeste Larkins

Last week we were invited by the Bunidyarra Irra Wangga Language Program to a language workshop in Mullewa (about an hour’s drive east of our base in Geraldton), held at the Mullewa Aboriginal Arts Centre. The language program aims to preserve, revitalise and maintain Aboriginal language and culture. It was a great opportunity to observe the workshop and hear from local Mullewa people, some of which could speak Wajarri (the local language), and others who had not learnt it because of past government policies.

During the workshop, we had the privilege of trying bimba, a traditional bush food, also known as ‘bush lolly’, which you get from going out bush. 

Celeste enjoying some bimba.

Celeste enjoying some bimba.

To support the work of the Irra Wangga Language Centre, we help the community record their language for broadcast on the local Aboriginal community radio station, Radio MAMA, which we did in Mullewa.

We drove three hours onto Mount Magnet which is Badimaya country (a different language group). There we went to the District High School which started a language program this year in the school teaching both Wajarri and Badimaya. Due to family connections, many students are Yamaji or have Yamaji links (who speak Wajarri), as well as Badimaya. We met teacher Mrs Roslyn Little, who had a kindy (4-year-olds) and Pre-primary (5-year-olds) class while we visited. The students loved their language class, and with the help of their teacher, were able to record some great radio messages using Wajarri words. We aim to go back next school term to do more recordings in Badimaya. Have a listen to the radio messages the students recorded below.