Welcoming community back to the Pool

A refreshing update – the pool is back open! On Saturday 10 September our Directors, Dean Mosquito and Arron Little joined Shire President Malcolm Edwards and Rec. Centre Manager Ryan Chapman in formally re-opening the pool. Closed since October 2021, due to a lack of staff, the pool had deteriorated, and was at risk of being condemned. However, new Shire CEO Phillip Cassell saw hope for the pool, and upon the successful recruitment of the Rec. Centre Manager work to bring the pool back began.

Over 4-5 month period, the pool was drained, cleaned, repaired and re-filled. The hard work and persistence of the Shire Rec. crew was admirable, and the work paid off, with a sparkling blue oasis back in the middle of Halls Creek. Olabud Doogethu Directors Dean Mosquito and Arron Little, along with Elder Josie Farrer and daughter Renata, smoked the leaves of the Ecalyptus tree and the Konkerberry bush, welcoming the community back to the pool site. Walking through the smoke, children and adults alike came with excitement and enthusiasm, and took to the water on what was a beautiful September day.

Our staff look forward to working together with the Shire, the school and other local partners to utilise the Pool and the Rec. Centre as part of our ongoing efforts to improve experiences and outcomes for our young people and their families.

Exploring on Country

For our Olabud Doogethu staff, and our clients, getting out on Country is important. Nature’s classroom offers a wealth of learnings, and these experiences vary throughout the year, as do the seasons. At this time of year with most of the water holes dry, land is exposed that is under water for much of the year. The rocks which sit in the river and creek beds are now accessible, some made perfectly smooth by the running of the water, and some made angular with sharp edges, caused by being tumbled and cracked against each other by the fast flowing waters after a big wet season. The kids collected up some of the rocks discussing how the smooth ones can be used for grinding bush seeds and nuts into powder, and the sharp ones can be used for cutting foliage and make spear heads.

Halls Creek NAIDOC 2022: Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!

The theme to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2022 was get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! and our team did just that. On Monday 4 July locals and visitors alike took to the streets for the annual NAIDOC March, arriving to the Shire of Halls Creek Oval for a Smoking Ceremony performed by Elders Stewart Morton, and our very own Dean Mosquito. The party then gathered for a Welcome to Country spoken in both Gija and Jaru language, as well as English by Elders Stewart Morton and Josey Farrah, sharing traditional language and expressing their feelings on what NAIDOC, Language and culture means to them both.

The music got going, delivered by PRK Radio Halls Creek, and our team provided Roo Tail cooked up in the Googan hole at the Mens Tribal Centre. Everyone enjoyed the feed and the afternoon sun, followed by a live performance by Halls Creek band the Dodge City Boys.

On Friday 8 July to round the week out our Day Crew ran a t-shirt design workshop, where kids could make their own custom t-shits using paints and stencils, and also a Boomerang display and Boomerang throwing workshop. The Olabud team have a great collection of artefacts including boomerangs, tapping sticks and traditional tools, some very old, and some made by our team and the young mob we engage with. Kids got involved in Boomerang throwing, with painted targets to practice their techniques.

Check out the photos below, and click to enlarge.



Camping on Country

In June our Case Management team and Alternative Education team worked together to take clients out on country for an overnight camping trip. The clients both teams work with are those with some of the most complex needs, have been left behind by the mainstream education system and come from diverse familial and home environments. As part of Olabud Doogethu’s 2022-2023 forward planning sessions, camps were identified as a way to engage kids in a neutral environment, away from potential distractions and disruptions. Starting with a small group from both Programs for an overnight trip, our staff were able to spend one on one time with clients and also lead group discussions and activities.

After considering a few different locations, the teams settled upon the picturesque Lake Komaterpillar. At this location, they were able to make the most of the proximity to water, flat space for setting up camp and lots of land to explore. As a group, they took part in camp set up, food preparation, boomerang making, collecting wood and camp fire supper and yarning.

The camp was enjoyed by all, and considered a success by our Program staff, giving them the confidence to forward plan for more camps, with more kids and for longer periods of time.

Residential Airfares for Regional WA

Travel to and from the Kimberley is typically an expensive venture, and can be a real limitation for locals living in remote WA. Whether its to go on a holiday, visit family or to access services, just getting to Perth and back can be very pricey, and in some cases, unaffordable for our mob. There is some good news in this space…the WA Government has entered into a Regional Airfare Zone Cap scheme with all of the airlines that service this part of the world.

From 1 July 2022 flights to Perth for Kimberley residents will be capped at $299. The airlines can not charge more than this for a one-way ticket to Perth from Kununurra or Broome.


To be eligible to purchase Residential Fares, you must be a member of the individual airlines loyalty program and list your Kimberley address.

To find out more or become a member see below:

QANTAS – https://www.qantas.com/au/en/frequent-flyer/member-specials/discounted-fares-for-residents.html

VIRGIN – https://www.virginaustralia.com/au/en/info/regional-fares-terms-conditions/

SKIPPERS – 1300 729 924

AIRNORTH – 1800 627 474 

REX – https://www.rex.com.au/?des=per 

You may also want to read the FAQs produced by the WA Department of Transport. CLICK HERE to download it.

You can also read more about this from the WA Government at    https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2022/03/More-affordable-airfares-have-landed-for-regional-Western-Australians.aspx

COVID in the Kimberley: the Olabud Doogethu response

Since COVID-19 reached the Kimberley, organisations, businesses and service providers have had to operate differently. To date there have been over 200 positive cases in Halls Creek town and the surrounding Communities. Social distancing and isolating at home can look quite different for remote communities such as ours. 

We have been working hard to continue to support all of the individuals and families we provide services to, assisting with connection to other service and health-care providers where relevant, helping to arrange provisions such as food, COVID-19 test kits, cleaning products and care packages, and generally ensuring COVID safe practices while operating our Programs

Our staff are diligently temperature testing and signing in every morning and evening, testing for COVID at the first sign of symptoms, and always wearing masks and using hand sanitiser. It has not been ideal for service provision, as has been the case for so many organisations around Australia and the world, but we remain committed to our focus; designing, delivering, assisting or supporting programs that build stronger families, improve our quality of life, and champion our proud heritage.

Some of our staff and their families have been directly affected by COVID-19, having to seek medical assistance in some cases and isolating at home if returning a positive test. We commend our staff’s commitment to following COVID safe guidelines while remaining motivated to continue the good work, and return to respective roles and Programs as soon as it is safe to do so.

By working together, towards a common goal, we have remained resilient in the face of COVID-19. 

Kutjungka Program pilot: the journey so far.

Kutjungka Program – the journey so far – April 2022

With funding from the Federal Government granted in 2021, Olabud Doogetha was able to launch the Kutjungka Project pilot, employing country men and women as Community Navigators to operate in the remote desert communities of the Kutjungka region.

The role of Community Navigators is to connect members of community with services, identify strengths and weaknesses in current service provision and discover the key priorities of each community, so as to assist in finding the best way forward.

Community Navigators conducted household surveys in early 2022. Click the link above to see the full report.

A Big Heart For The Local Community

Lina Tafaoialii believes navigating Aboriginal cultures and having a big heart for the community is key to creating meaningful change.

In the heart of the Kimberley

Originally from New Zealand with Samoan heritage, Lina Tafaoailii arrived in the East Kimberley in 2017 from Sydney wanting a change. She would never imagine she would find happiness in the heart of the Kimberley helping Halls Creek’s most at-risk and vulnerable kids in the Olabud Doogethu Family Support Team.

“In Sydney, I worked in early childhood development. But I wanted a change and to see what the other side of Australia would be like, so I did. The lifestyle in the East Kimberley is more of a “community”, rather than Sydney where everybody is just focused on their own things,” said Lina.

Lina began working in Mindibungu (Billiluna), 150km away from Halls Creek. She started working in different roles and areas – including administration, Centrelink, aged car, and municipal services. That was the foundation for Lina to operate across different systems which eventually saw her join Olabud Doogethu in 2019 as a Family Support Officer.

When Lina moved to Mindibungu (Billiluna), Lina quickly felt the stark difference between remote Aboriginal communities and her life in Sydney and experienced some culture shock.

“It’s hard for remote Aboriginal communities to get the help and talent they need because they’re so remote. In Sydney, you can get help, but I believe a lot of people take that ease and access to services and support for granted. It’s hard to imagine living remote when you’ve never been. Even just contacting services on a telephone is not easy for remote communities. The struggle is definitely real.”

Navigating cross-culturally

One of Lina’s strengths that helped her adjust in her environment was drawing upon her Samoan heritage, identity, and connection to her culture. She believes there are similarities between Samoan and the Aboriginal cultures that she works with, particularly when it comes to Elders and being respectful.

“Our family kept our culture alive by passing down what they’ve been taught to us, like the role of a Samoan girl or a Samoan boy, you know? It’s really based in respect, being respectful to your Elders and be mindful of those around you. I think that’s really similar in Aboriginal cultures.”

“For me, being respectful in Aboriginal communities is really important. As non-Aboriginal people (Kartiya), we need to respect their ways, how things are done, and adapt to that, and to make sure you are not overstepping the line with anyone or any Elders that you are working with.”

Lina also believes that when it comes to change making in these communities, it’s important to go follow cultural protocol and ensure the community is leading their own change.

“If they want that change in their community, I guess it’s up to them with anything. Even ideas that you bring to the table, it’s up to them. To me, the way I look at it, they know what’s best for their community. As kartiya, we can’t just come in and change things in our own way without working closely with the local community. Some kartiya don’t understand that, but that’s what it really comes down to.”

A sobering reality

One of the most difficult challenges for Lina working with Olabud Doogethu’s Family Support Team is trying to support the at-risk and vulnerable young people, when they are not even supported in their own home or family.

“It’s been very, very hard to look at, or even just hear about. When you see it for yourself, it’s heartbreaking. There is no support from some parents with these kids. I feel like there is no bond there, or the bond is broken. How do you repair that back together? It’s just really, really sad to see. I know some families try their best, but they still can’t get through. There’s just lots of questions, more than answers, around that and how to help.”

For Lina, one of the biggest learning lessons for her working in the East Kimberley is being able to have a big heart, but still remain realistic.

“Having a big heart for the local community is so important. You really want to do so much, but you can’t, or you don’t know how to. You really have to hold space, as much empathy as you can, and hold as much love for the people you work with. But you also have to be realistic with your expectations. I feel like I got attached to the people and the community. I felt it was my duty to always be on top of everything for everybody. But I think you can only do what you can at the end of the day.”

Let’s Talk To Our Kids

Joseph Cox, a local Jaru and Gooniyandi man, is a Youth Engagement Night Officer and believes in the power of talking to young people and kids to learn how we can provide support, direction, and guidance.

A Halls Creek local

Joseph Cox, a local Jaru and Gooniyandi man, has spent most of his life in Halls Creek. After working across the Kimberley and Northern Territory as a station hand, he eventually returned to Halls Creek to raise his young family close to home.

“I have three kids. They’re still pretty young. We try to keep them at home and I’m trying to get them into fishing, hunting, and bush tucker,” said Joseph.

In September 2021, Joseph joined the Youth Engagement Night Officers to see what it was like working at night time.

“I joined Olabud Doogethu because of the night shift. I wanted to try a different experience working at night, compared to a day job. It’s going alright. It’s good to try and keep the kids under control and try to change things for the better in the community,” said Joseph.

“I enjoy the job so far. I like to get involved and get things happening in the community. But it’s hard to get the kids to work with us, it’s hard to get them to go home.”

Not always a straight answer

A key part to the YENO’s success in Olabud Doogethu’s justice reinvestment initiative is their engagement with the young people and children who roam the streets at night. For Joseph, having a yarn and having a conversation is one of the most important skills to have as a YENO.

“What motivates me is to try and get the kids to listen, to move them along to go home, and just talking to them. We ask them why they’re out at night, what they find good about walking around at night and all that. But they don’t always give you a straight answer. They’re always changing. They’re good with their words.”

Using that energy for good

Joseph believes that there are a lot of different reasons that young people and children roam the streets at night. But he believes that a key to this is getting the young people and children to use their energy in a productive and healthy way, rather using that energy to cause trouble at night.

“I feel like there aren’t enough programs for them, especially after school and early evening. After the King of the Kimberley, the kids had some basketball going on. After that, when it came to 10pm, we moved them along. But they were all ready to go home and we didn’t have a lot of kids on the streets around that time. It’s good to see some programs happening, but I think we need more.”

It doesn’t look like there’s anybody there for them

Most importantly, Joseph believes parents need to check in with their kids more often. After walking the streets regularly at night since he began in September, Joseph believes that a lot of the young people and kids out at night just lack a bit of direction, support, and guidance.

“That’s where it needs to start – at home. Parents and their families need to try pull their own kids up, talk to them about what’s happening, how they’re feeling, what’s right and what’s wrong. But I don’t think parents are talking to their kids. There’s nobody talking to them asking them the questions we ask them at night. To me, it doesn’t look like there’s anybody there for them.”

I See Myself In These Kids

Doug Morgan, a Balanggarra man from Wyndham, sees Halls Creek’s kids going down the same path he took years ago.

From Wyndham to Halls Creek

Doug Morgan, a Balanggarra man originally from Wydnham, would have never imagined coming to live and work in Halls Creek. But in early 2020, Doug’s partner relocated to Halls Creek for work, which led him to finding a job with Olabud Doogethu – a program he never even heard of before he joined.

“I was just sitting down with some people, having some beers, and having a yarn. And then someone told me I should work for this night program in town. And I was like ‘what night program?’” said Doug.

First night on the job

Since then, Doug has been one of the most consistent Youth Engagement Night Officers working with the kids roaming around at night. His first night was filled with action, where he witnessed a group of kids stealing a car.

“It was crazy. I never thought I’d be doing this [job] on the streets at night in Halls Creek with the amount of kids. There were easily 40 to 60 kids when I joined the team. My first night on the job, I witnessed a stolen car. It sort of spun me out, like seriously? I was confused, stunned, and speechless – all at the same time. Seeing the kids fly through town and in the bush in a stolen car… I was surprised with how the kids knew about all these back roads throughout the entire town. It took the police a couple of hours to just shut them down.”

Past reflecting in the present

While Doug has only just started calling Halls Creek ‘home’, he’s motivated to see a change in the community and work towards a brighter future for the children because he sees a lot of himself in the kids today.

“Growing up, I’ve always been through the court, committing crimes, and on the wrong end of the stick. You see me, then you see them. I see them going down the same path that I took years ago, so I’m trying to help them stop now while they’re still young, or at least get them towards a better future,” said Doug.

Love, respect, and attention

But even in comparison to today’s generation, Doug feels that this generation is another level.

“I was mostly fighting. I didn’t do what the kids are doing out today on the street. It was just different then, I would have gotten a lot more discipline… [But also] they probably don’t get the love, respect, and attention that we did back in the day, you know? So, the kids today, they go out and seek that attention and respect – but they only know how to do it in a wrong way by causing trouble.”

Coming together as one

Doug feels the biggest challenge in Halls Creek is that the community doesn’t come together, especially at night time.

“At night, it’s mostly just us [YENOs] alone. We all have a part to play in doing something better for the kids of Halls Creek. We need to work together, alongside each other – in the day and the night, with families and other agencies. The police do what they can, but they’re so busy – they’re also outnumbered and out staffed,” said Doug.

Doug believes that taking care of kids is not a 9-5 job, but a 24-7 commitment that should be the responsibility of parents and families.

“The kids on the streets don’t have anything going on for them in their life. There is nothing for them to look forward to, especially after school hours,” said Doug.

For Doug, he believes that the Halls Creek community can’t afford to keep blaming each other and to step up and take action.

“Stop playing the blame game because we all need to pitch in to help this town. It would be a better town then for everybody.”