WANTA and school staff in the Utopia Homelands travel 496 kilometres a day, across 8 homeland outstations to ensure students can attend school and our Remote Sports Academy at Arlparra.  The Utopia Homelands are located 250kms North East of Alice Springs in the Barkly Region of the Northern Territory on Alyawarr/ Anmatjere country. Utopia is a unique remote community set up made up of 16 homeland outstations across 3, 500 square kilometres with our home of  Arlparra and Ampilatwatja the two major communities. Families across the homelands are required to come to Arlparra to attend high school and for food and supplies from the local store.

Our day starts at around 7am with troopy’s and buses rolling out of Arlparra to complete the school runs, most of which take up to (sometimes over) 1.5 hours to complete. It is the dedicated work of our local staff that make it possible for us to do the work we do with the youth of Utopia. Young people living on homelands don’t get access to the same after school and weekend sport and recreation services as those living in major communities, so WANTA’s close working relationship with the schools allows us to provide those experiences and opportunities for homeland students. We are able to provide daily sport, cooking, art, personal development and recreational activities in our academy room during our allocated lesson time as well as after school bush trips and sporting events.

Some highlights of our activities this term have been learning to cook healthy alternatives to our favourite fast food, gym sessions, reward bush trips to Red Gum after school, an overnight trip to Yuendumu to participate in the U19s Country Red Tails exhibition game, AFL skills clinics, leadership development sessions provided by Michael Long Leadership Centre and many fun filled afternoons in the academy room playing pool, play station, board games and watching movies.

The rest of the term looks to be busy with an Alice Springs basketball comp, rewards trips to the Alice Springs pool and a jam packed holiday program on the cards. The team at Arlparra are excited for what the rest of the year holds for our WANTA Academy. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with community stakeholders to provide an engaging and meaningful program for the homelands youth.

Written by Niamh Geoghegan, Arlparra Sports Academy Director.