This week, Wanta will say goodbye to Clare Smith. Wanta founders, Clare and her husband Matt, have now both moved on to new opportunities in their home of Kununurra, Western Australia. The legacy and the strong foundation that they leave behind will certainly be carried on, but we will miss them. Thank you, Clare, for working so incredibly hard to help establish this amazing not-for-profit organisation, brightening the futures of so many Indigenous children. We asked Clare for a few words to describe her Wanta journey before she embarks on her new career; which you can read below. Good luck Clare, thanks for everything.
“It seems like forever ago now that I first stepped foot in the red dirt of Yuendumu. I had been to Yuendumu before however I never thought I would end up living there, being a city girl at heart residing in a small community 300km North West of Alice Springs (pregnant and with a one year old) seemed slightly daunting. However, when an opportunity presented itself, my husband Matt and I decided to grab it with both hands.
The Community, despite the bad rap it sometimes gets was warm and welcoming to us and our daughter from the start, when our second child came along, they embraced us even more. It was a unique way of life for me as a mother of two small children and although it presented some challenges, many including dogs, unwanted mice and perpetually red dirt stained clothes, I wouldn’t change anything about those few years we had in the Central Desert.
The best and most rewarding part of living in Yuendumu was being given the opportunity to work with Matt and establish Wanta Aboriginal Corporation. Together we formed a vision and set out to create something that would have a lasting impact on the lives of the youth living in Yuendumu.
Through many years of hard work (as well a couple more interstate moves and another child) we managed to make major inroads towards this dream. Wanta is a now a thriving organisation which works with over 1200 indigenous youth and employs over 30 staff across 9 communities in the Northern Territory, over 60% of which are Indigenous, something I am very proud of.
I have learnt so much along the way and have had so many rich and rewarding experiences throughout this journey that I will forever be grateful for. I am so grateful for the chances people took on us, to all the staff who came to work for us, who moved their lives across states to work with us and strive to achieve our vision. To the Government and numerous funding bodies who took a chance on us and what we were trying to achieve. To the Communities and Schools who welcomed our people into their lives and classrooms, and finally to all the Indigenous kids who have embraced our programs wholeheartedly.
You are the ones we did this for.
The proudest part of the journey for me happens today, as I bid farewell to this wonderful organisation. Knowing that I have helped build something that will live on, a legacy that will continue to see efforts being made towards improving the lives of Indigenous youth who deserve as many opportunities as everyone else.
I am so happy and comforted knowing that as I take a step in a different direction, I leave behind such a strong and empowered workforce who will continue to make leaps and bounds and work towards the same mission we set out in 2015.
The current Wanta team, both Indigenous and non-indigenous are one of the strongest teams we have ever had. The trust built between everyone, the cooperation and cohesiveness to achieving shared goals is nothing short of inspiring and I have no doubt Wanta will go from strength to strength.
Go forth and prosper Wanta, you are forever in my heart”.