A Town Like Alice – hanging out with Children’s Ground

Talent Founder Richard Earl recently had the privilege of spending a few days with Igniting Change and Children’s Ground in Alice Springs and Arnhem Land. Richard shares his experience in this blog post:

Day 1
The Igniting Change team headed up by Jane Tewson arrived in Alice Springs on a Sunday afternoon to be greeted by Jane Vadiveloo CEO of Children’s Ground, an organisation committed to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty and inequity in Australia’s most disadvantaged communities.
We immediately headed for White Gate an Aboriginal town on the fringe of Alice that has been denied essential services simply because the community want to live in a place that is rightly theirs and a natural home. We heard local elder Felicity Hayes talk of her terrible frustration with politics and injustice.
From there we went to the home of Jane Vadiveloo who displayed wonderful hospitality as we assembled around the camp fire to hear riveting stories and painful tales from indigenous elders and Children’s Ground Chair, William Tilmouth.


Hospitality at Jane Vadiveloo’s home


William Tilmouth – Children’s Ground Chair










Day 2
On Monday morning the group headed off to visit Yarrenyty Arltere Art Centre where members of the community with troubled pasts are now productively involved in creating some amazing artwork and local products. Most of us couldn’t resist the powerful work on offer. Evidence that purpose equals positive outcomes and a sustainable existence.

From there we headed to the very spiritual setting of Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Reserve where children play carefree and elders such as Felicity Hayes who teaches at Children’s Ground provide wise counsel to all levels of the local community. Felicity drives an agenda for basic human rights, respect and a future for the next generation. For lunch we were treated to a local delicacy – Kangaroo Tail!


Yarrenyty Arltere Art Centre


A local delicacy: Kangaroo Tail









Jessie Gaps Nature Reserve








An indigenous child enjoying Jess Gaps Nature Reserve


Aboriginal Elder Felicity Hays











Day 3
A brisk Olympic pace walk into town for a healthy breakfast led by Jane Tewson was followed by a trip to Akeyulerre, the Aboriginal Healing Centre where we spent some wonderful time understanding traditional approaches to healing and medicine which included a chance to participate in the preparation of age old remedies.
We listened to local elder Margaret Kemarre Turner (OAM) who talked of the importance and history of traditional healing methods.


Preparation of natural remedies at the Aboriginal Healing Centre


Elder Margaret Kernarre Turner (OAM) and Talent Founder Richard Earl











From there we headed 70km’s out of town to the remote area Corkwood Bore to hang out with local families, play sport and enjoy a glorious sunset as we sat around the camp fire intently listening to the grandmothers talk of their desire for their grandchildren to have a better life, by teaching through Aboriginal culture and values with family. They want to get away from the problems of town and return to a simpler and more traditional way of life. Priceless!


Around the Camp Fire at Corkwood Bore

Day 4
We rounded off the final morning to review evidence of the great work accomplished by both Jane’s with Children’s Ground at Jabiru in Arnhem Land. It was also a time to reflect and express thoughts over breakfast at the botanical gardens before heading back to whence we came – a world far away from what we have witnessed and experienced over the last few days.
Well done to Jane Tewson and Jane Vadiveloo for their amazing work with Children’s Ground and the Indigenous communities around Australia. Well done to those who felt compelled to spontaneously offer financial support for things such as new homes and the refurbishment of the Healing Centre. Well done to everyone who has made a difference.
As with most needy and tragic causes, awareness and education within the general public are normally in short supply. Australia has much to be proud of. However the needs and rights of many indigenous Australians are still overlooked and we must take responsibility. We must not blame history or the past. We must own the problem today and get involved!
Thanks to everyone involved in this tour and to those who put the whole thing together. It was great to spend time with you all.
And finally a big thank you to the local indigenous communities for welcoming us into their lives for a few days and sharing their experiences.

-Richard Earl

“We are part of the Land.
The Land is us, and we are the Land.
That’s how we hold our Land.”