Marking a new way of delivering sport and recreation programs in community, Manfred and Siby are based in VDRC’s regional office and travel between Timber Creek, Amanbidji, Bulla and Kalkarindji.
Working in communities a week at a time, they are delivering activities and programs including after school care and school holiday programs, and a number of events throughout the year.
They work closely with community stakeholders and Night Patrol teams to deliver programs year-round.
A new approach to old problems
VDRC is funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) and the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities to deliver sport and recreation activities across its communities. Extended lockdowns and vaccine mandates across the region however has resulted in challenges with the recruitment of community-based staff to facilitate these programs.
While sport and recreation officers were successfully hired in Pine Creek and Yarralin, positions in Timber Creek and Kalkarindji were vacant for over 12 months.
To overcome this, Council sought approval from NIAA and Territory Families, Housing and Communities to trial a new staffing and delivery model. The new model includes:
- Recruiting two full-time Recreation Coordinators based out of VDRC’s Katherine Regional Office
- Community Night Patrol officers will also provide additional support for recreational activities three afternoons per week.
- The coordinators will be based at Kalkarindji on Week 1 and then Timber Creek on Week 2.
A different focus
Rather than formal team sports, the renewed program focuses on a broad range of recreational activities such as bush walking, kite flying, arts and crafts, cooking, movie sessions, discos and cultural activities.
This new approach is also developing positive relationships between young community members and Night Patrol team members.
Mayor of VDRC, B. Pedwell, said he was confident in the positive impact this approach would have on communities.
“Evidence shows that sport and recreation programs in remote communities have a positive impact not only physical and mental wellbeing, but school attendance, rates of employment, life-skills and crime reduction,” Mayor Pedwell said.
“Unfortunately securing and retaining full-time staff in remote areas is challenging because among a myriad of issues, there is no available staff housing and a limited budget for attracting quality staff to the roles.
“I want to extend my thanks to NIAA and the NTG for supporting this new way of delivering sport and recreation programs in Timber Creek and Kalkarindji, and I look forward to seeing the results of our trial.”
The trial period for these new positions is set to end in July 2023, when Council, NIAA and the NTG will undertake a review of how well the approach is working to delivering sport and recreation programs across the region.
Maggie Coggan | 0477970963 | firstname.lastname@example.org