road to Haasts Bluff Community
PHOTOS IN THIS NEWSLETTER BY ELLIOT GRAY

Last month, I had the privilege of visiting the Haasts Bluff community again. This time we departed from Melbourne, where I met up with a great photographer, Elliot Gray, who I’ve known for more than fifteen years. Elliot is an amazing and gifted mentor to many young people in his home in Victoria, he has experience in overseas aid and he has a real heart for our work. He was keen to visit Haasts Bluff and bring his expertise as we look to develop our digital literacy and creative projects with the community.

Elliot and I left Melbourne on a cold Thursday morning and flew into Alice, then drove out to Haasts Bluff. We had stocked up on food in Alice, knowing we’d cook for those we met with in the community. The roads were in great shape and we soon approached Memory Mountain.

A key reason for our visit was to meet with an amazing couple who came out from Alice Springs to discuss how they might be involved with the Walk A While centre. I’ll not share their names, as we are still discussing what their role would look like. Needless to say they are both beautiful, creative people with deep experience in media, film and photography as well as education. We all share the same vision to empower genuine, sustained change in communities such as Haasts Bluff.

When we arrived in the community, Elliot and I spent time with young people who were fascinated by our drone and borrowed our cameras to take some shots. We had a great time playing footy, then we cooked dinner and some of the kids joined us. One prayed in language just before we ate and I think we were all moved and felt tears welling up.

playing footy

The need for our work has never been greater. The hunger of the young people out there to be included in the digital economy – and to be able to share their amazing stories, their wonderful creativity and their land – has never been greater. We are desperately keen to have the centre staffed and an ongoing work resourced. Every donation to our work makes a huge difference and moves us closer to realising that dream – a dream that will ultimately save lives by bringing hope and helping these amazing people overcome dependence and many complex challenges that causes the suicide rate to be the highest on the planet.

The proposed Walk a While centre is in great shape, having over time been cleaned and stocked with food and bed linen for visitors. We are really hopeful that we can finalise the lease now and move into the next phase of work to equip it and make it ready to work with the community. We have generously been donated free NBN satellite connectivity and a number of technology companies are keen to help with equipment. The most critical things now are some final technical details with the lease and recruiting the right people to work with the community on an ongoing basis.

That evening we headed out to Memory Mountain and had a fire under the Milky Way!

campfire under the stars

Our discussions with the potential managers were great. They really understood that our work needs to be highly relational and a lot like home schooling, where skills are linked to real world “big picture” tasks. We are in discussion with them now and really hope to have them on board in some way and the lease finalised very soon.

In regard to the project to build the cross that the people of the community envision, things are going well with the track complete to the site at the top of the mountain. Just to remind us of how spectacular this place is, below is a shot Elliot took with his drone.

top of the mountain

The cross will provide a great draw-card for visitors, so we are working closely with the community to progress how we will welcome people, provide camping and connect with them to take them on tours and adventures!

These are exciting times. Prayers and financial support remain critical and every dollar given towards this brings closer the day when we are able to celebrate change driven by the heart and vision of Aboriginal people themselves.

It’s always a privilege and a blessing to visit with and walk with the first people of this great land. This visit was no exception and we returned home hoping we had been as much of a blessing as we had been blessed. Great and exciting days ahead.

And here’s a new way for you to help.
Ever since she heard Ken Duncan speak about Walk a While, Melbourne-based artist, Stephanie Broad, has been looking for a way to help. Stephanie has now created two mixed media artworks and is producing Limited Edition Prints off them. She is generously giving Walk a While 50% of the proceeds from each print sold.

Both artworks were inspired by the beauty of our Australian outback and we are thankful Stephanie has decided to partner with us in this way. She is using her talents to help our indigenous youth develop their talents.

You can go here to take a look at the two artworks Stephanie has created and you can order the prints online.

 

Blessings,

TIM MORRIS-SMITH