Meet Belinda Heagney and Rebecca Smith, two Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta teachers who have taken up the challenge of leaving behind their suburban lives to teach in a remote community.
Belinda is currently on a two-year secondment at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic College, Wadeye, located in the Northern Territory. Following in her footsteps is Rebecca, a current teacher at Our Lady of the Rosary Primary St Marys, who has accepted a role at Casuarina Street Primary School in the Northern Territory, commencing next year.
“To teach in a rural setting has always been a driving force for me. I am a firm believer that schools have the opportunity to be a major part of the community and I am very excited to be starting this new opportunity,” said Rebecca.
Belinda, who is now completing her second two-year secondment in the Northern Territory, described the opportunity as “something where you’re making a difference, even if it’s in a small way.”
“Someone once described Wadeye as a place that gets under your skin (in a good way), and it truly has with mine,” she said.
Belinda teaches a Year 8 class and is also the school’s Literacy Coach across Years 5-9.
“I have learnt so much about community, family, culture and tradition since working here. I arrived here quite naïve, but have now come to understand a great deal,” Belinda added.
“I have been invited out on cultural trips with Indigenous colleagues and their extended family, which is a truly amazing experience.”
While our understanding of school involves a suburban environment, Belinda described both the joy and occasional difficulty of living and working in a remote area.
“There are no coffee shops, there is a store, but it’s quite expensive and limited. We order our groceries online and they arrive a week later,” said Belinda.
“Even though you will have tough days, there is something very satisfying about this place and the beautiful people, the culture and the experience. I would encourage every teacher to take up the challenge and give it a go,” added Belinda.