New Territory for Parramatta teachers


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.