TWO local schools are pitching in to raise much-needed funds for a remote indigenous school in the Northern Territory.
The schools – Heathcote Primary School and Crusoe College – have collected about 30 large garbage bags of clothing donated by staff, students and families, to be sent to Gapuwiyak School for their annual fundraising fete.
Gapuwiyak is an Australian Aboriginal community located in north-eastern Arnhem Land, 220 kilometres west of Nhulunbuy, and serviced by a barge from Darwin once a week.
The town has a population of about 1200 people and the school has more than 100 students.
The Bendigo-Gapuwiyak link was established by former Bendigo teacher Jackson Clayton who moved to Gapuwiyak at the start of the year to take up a teaching position
Mr Clayton, whose brother, Rhys, teaches at Heathcote Primary School, said the idea for a clothing drive arose from a staff discussion about the best ways to raise money to buy new equipment for the school.
“We decided to link the school fete with a local music festival which will bring people to the area, and the idea of running a clothing drive came about simply because of necessity,” he said.
“There are no clothing stores for three hours in any direction, so it’s not easy for people to get clothes and it’s the same situation for all of the communities who will be coming in for the festival.
“We reasoned that if we could source clothes from somewhere, it would be a real hit and a chance for everyone to replenish their wardrobes.
“I grew up in Bendigo, I know it’s a very generous community where families regularly donate clothes to organisations such as the Salvation Army, and I had good school contacts there so it made sense.”
Through family members at Crusoe College, Heathcote and Monash University, Mr Clayton got the clothing drive under way.
Notices were placed in school newsletters inviting students and families to donate clothes, and he gave presentations at the primary and secondary school during a recent visit home. The response has been fantastic.
“On his visit home, Jackson showed a video of the Gapuwiyak school to our students and they were absolutely fascinated to hear about life in such a remote community,” Heathcote principal Cindi Bruechert said.
“We were absolutely inundated with clothing - there must have been 15-20 bags from our school alone.”
Crusoe College staff member and Mr Clayton’s mother, Mandy Clayton, leaves on Friday to transport the clothing to Gapuwiyak.
The school fete is on August 31.