While most of their peers headed for the coast to celebrate finishing school on the beach, two schoolies from Warragul in rural Victoria, Emma Grigg and Philippa Foot, are spending their break-up holiday as far from the ocean as you can get.
The 18 year olds from Chairo Christian School in Drouin are celebrating “Schoolies Week” in the centre of Australia by volunteering for Frontier Services in Mutitjulu, an Indigenous community just a few kilometres from Uluru.
“We wanted to do something different that would be an adventure and where we would be helping others,” said Emma.
The pair signed up to the Frontier Services volunteering program Outback Links. They are lending a hand at two services run by Frontier Services – Mutitjulu Child Care Centre, which cares for up to 20 children aged between three months and five years, and the Mutitjulu Community Care and Respite Centre, which provides a safe place for elderly people or people with disabilities and their carers.
Emma and Philippa will spend Schoolies cleaning, assisting the child care staff,delivering meals to community members in their homes and a range of other odd jobs.
They left Warragul last Thursday, travelling via Sydney to Uluru. They are staying at Yulara, the town and tourist hub closest to the rock, until Friday.
When asked whether they wished they were partying with other schoolies on the beach, the girls were adamant.
“No definitely not,” said Emma. “Especially watching the news and hearing what has happened on the Gold Coast, I have no regrets.”
“Our parents were more than happy that we decided to come here.” Their School has also been very supportive of their alternate Schoolies plan. It was a school trip to Darwin that inspired their decision.
Philippa added: “We are not into drinking and partying. Coming here is a lot better. We have a purpose – we are actually doing something rather than just sitting around.”
Despite being put to work, they say their choice has still allowed them to shake the post-exam stress.
Philippa said: “It is so relaxed here, we’re not in the hustle of the city. For me, helping people is stress-relieving. I love the land and the outback. The rock is massive. We’ve come on an adventure, but were also giving back to the community, that’s a good thing too.”
Emma, who plans a career in Early Childhood Education, was excited to see how this service is delivered in remote Australia and was full of praise for the job being done by Frontier Services staff.
Find out more about Outback Links
Top: Philippa and Emma with Elsie Mumu Aka Intjpartyi from Mutitjulu.