Coming together as a team is not only an essential thing to do from a learning and development perspective, but in an environment where our team is spread across all parts of the Territory, it is also great just to renew friendships and create new ones, and it would seem this applied wonderfully in Darwin for our 2023 PD.

Seeing Prav spreadeagled on the floor trying to hold the technical side of the PD together, right from the very start of proceedings, allowing Tenille to eventually proceed with her extensive App training session, showed that these events can both be a challenge but also a lot of fun. Somehow, as long as his right index finger remained pressed upon the red button…or was that the yellow…or the blue…then the day could proceed, and so it did!

Once all of those initial introductions had been made and a few scones consumed, the NAPCAN session commenced. As with Prav, there were cards spread in a disorganised fashion all over the floor, and we were asked to pick one that reflected how we were feeling. While we picked out birds, lizards and any other array of creatures, we seemed to think we were, for the most part, a bunch of frogs and dogs….some cute, some sad, and some…well, just frogs and dogs! While a fun start to the session, the exercise showed us that we are all different and how we all feel at any one time is different, so we need to be aware of that.

From there, we were offered some pretty confronting and distressing stories around child safety and those that perpetrate truly horrible abuse against children and young people. While the stories were challenging to listen to, they also showed how important our work is at Wanta. We are there to help the children and young people of our communities enjoy great lives and to be the best version of themselves that they can be, and so it is incredibly important that we keep an eye out for those that that don’t aim for the same.

We have an amazing team at Wanta, offering so much enjoyment and hope for those kids, and we should all be proud of ourselves for doing what we do. The session also emphasised the need to look out for and support each other to make that magic for kids happen.

Hearing some of the afternoon’s stories could have been extremely distressing, so to finish the day with a cruise on Darwin Harbour was a magnificent chance to unwind with our whole team, to enjoy a chat and a laugh, and to watch those beautiful reds, oranges and purples light up the evening sky to the west as the boat remained relatively free of any rocking motion that had a few of us a little concerned. While the cruise may not have been a fishing charter, the departure time might not have been exactly as planned and the journey to Stokes Hill Wharf may not have been as close as some had thought, it was a great evening and one that showcased just how well we do function as a team.

Tuesday soon presented itself and still with a similar eagerness to engage in some great learning, to have a yarn with our team-mates and to enjoy some more food which never seemed to end…..although pizza for afternoon smoko seemed an odd little choice, but that didn’t stop too many from indulging!

The day gave us two separate cross-cultural training sessions, one for our Indigenous mob and one for our non-Indigenous mob. They were both very well received, offering great information and a safe space for all of us to listen and to talk if we wanted. We sometimes need to be reminded that while we might all work in one amazing place we also work in two very different cultures, so these were sessions that helped us each to understand the other. Our Wanta team is an amazing mob. We are all individuals wanting to do the best for our respective communities, and so a cultural learning such as this really helps to improve how we all go about achieving those amazing outcomes.

Towards the end of the day both groups came together to talk about what we learnt and how we felt. This was a wonderful way to round off a great chance to learn prior to heading for a bit more fun….barefoot bowls! A weird game, played on neatly trimmed, perfectly flat green grass, a scene not often (ie never!) seen out in Central Australian communities.

Well, this is where true colours get to show through. Competitive vs non-competitive, and those who say they are not competitive verse those who acknowledge what they really are (who quietly offered the name, Zac? Haha!). An amazing night of fun was had by everyone!

Usually, by the time any such function as this gets to the third day, interest is struggling and a desire to head home is strengthening, but this felt different. The day was a great opportunity for all of our individual teams to have a bit more fun. It allowed everyone to show the other teams what wonderful things they were doing for kids and young people in their communities, and that simply helped to reinforce what a great team we have at Wanta and what great people make up that team, no matter where they are and what their role is!

And then there was the marshmallow and balloon exercise! Haha, what was that Prav, and who actually won? Well, of course, the answer to that was that we all won! It was a great little team building session that meant we finished off the PD with a set of structures that struggled to hold up a marshmallow but the room reverberated with yarns and laughter, the perfect way to finish off.

Thanks very much everyone for contributing and participating in the way that you did, and here’s to a great year ahead until we collect again for a PD in 2024!!

Written by Neil Mackenzie, Southern Region and Social Enterprise Manager.