The Wanta Young Women’s Program has kick started with a very warm welcome from the community of Gunbalanya. There has been a immense demand for a girls academy in Gunbalanya in the past and it seems WANTA is the perfect fit!

Wanta welcomed the students back after a long six week dry season break with a ‘Back 2 School’ march in collaboration with other community organisations, which turned out to be such a hit. 

Jumping straight into the community spirit, Wanta screened a back to school outdoor movie night, where the community was invited down to enjoy a BBQ dinner and a movie thanks to Wanta’s movie truck. There were many smiling faces enjoying popcorn under the stars while we screened Spies in Disguise. A massive thank you to Prav, our Regional Manager and Demian, our CEO for coming out and making it happen. 

We haven’t taken the foot off the pedal since and have already been up to so much in the first five weeks of the Girls Academy in Gunbalanya. The girls have spent time exploring and connecting to country, listening and learning about what makes them strong and embracing those around them as they laugh and enjoy the moments.

The girls school attendance has improved immensely through the support of Wanta, with morning pick ups getting more girls to school earlier and encouraging more consistent attendance. The academy room has allowed the girls a place for them to enjoy themselves and take care of themselves, with the girls loving being able to do their hair and enjoy some self care. With the addition of a Nintendo switch, pool table and speaker, there is never a dull moment in the girls academy space and the girls love to bounce off each other, relax, learn and connect. 

The girls have already showed me how ‘deadly’ they are at fishing, never going home empty handed each time we head out to enjoy an afternoon of fishing and relaxing out bush. We have also been lucky enough to collaborate with our local and very well known Arts centre, Injalak Arts, with two very talented master weavers and cultural leaders- Connie Nayinggul and Jennifer Garnarradj taking our girls out to collect pandanus and roots for natural dying. We are very lucky to have an incredible and supportive community that is always happy to come along when we head out bush and show the young girls the way. 

We recently had a sleepover after spending the afternoon out fishing on country and heading back to the academy room for dinner. The girls prepared pizzas for dinner followed by some yummy ice creams. There was such a great atmosphere in the room as the girls chilled out, did face masks and enjoyed a movie together. This was such a great bonding experience, followed by some awesome pancakes for breakfast before getting ready for school. Thanks to the Kalkaringi academy for this great idea, we can’t wait to have your girls out here to visit! 

Our afternoon basketball sessions have been building excitement for our upcoming basketball fixture against Jabiru later in the term. This has also lead to the girls designing our new sports guernseys in collaboration with a local artist- the final design is amazing and we can’t wait to show them off. 

With the upcoming wet season approaching it won’t be long until we are completely cut off from road access and the only way in and out of Gunbalanya is through chartered flights. This is such an exciting time of the year and although we become an inland island there is still our own backyard to explore with breathtaking waterfalls flowing and stormy afternoons to enjoy. There is so much we have done already and we can’t wait to show you what we get up to next with our Gunbalanya Young Women’s Program. 

Written by Jessica Powell – Director, Gunbalanya Young Women’s Academy.