No matter where you are in Australia, working with remote communities comes with a unique set of challenges. Some of the communities we work with are separated from major towns, hubs, and services by hundreds of kilometres of unsealed road. Nothing is quick, simple, or easy. In fact, delivering an early education or a community service in these places requires a whole new level of logistics.
At One Tree, we’ve become experts at turning challenges into possibilities. This year, at the remote community of Yarralin in the Northern Territory, we did just that.
Ever since we first opened One Tree Yarralin Children’s Service, we’ve needed to recruit qualified staff for the service from outside the community. Simply because, there are not enough qualified educators who live in Yarralin full-time. However, we aim to change that. We hire highly qualified educators who move to Yarralin to support and guide local trainees. Eventually, local trainees will become qualified educators and they will be trained to successfully run the service in the long term.
It was all going to plan, except for one thing. Yarralin has house shortages and overcrowding in homes. There are 350 people in this community and only 61 homes. Plus, no new homes had been built in the community for 20 years.
This left One Tree with a problem. We found the right people to staff our service. However, we couldn’t provide them with anywhere to live. Considering the housing crisis in the community, we were unlikely to find a staff house anytime soon.
The One Tree solution
Luckily, the community services team aren’t afraid of doing things they’ve never done before. Especially if it helps the communities they work with. So, when they couldn’t find a house – the team decided they would build one.
First, the team sourced funding from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE). Then they worked with The Northern Land Council and Ngalkarrang-Wulungann Aboriginal Trust to find a block of land to lease.
Power and water were connected while the house was built off-site in Darwin. Once finished, the house was put on two trucks and made the long journey to its new home. Sarah Dingle and Tassia McCaffery managed every stage of the build, transport and set up exceptionally well. They ensured the community was consulted every step of the way. Plus, they ensured the build was to a high standard, on budget, and met the needs of our staff.
In this community of 350 people, there are no building companies able to construct the One Tree house. So, the team had to use contractors from outside the community to bring this project to life. Brining outside contractors into to community came with surprising benefits.
The Yarralin community benefit directly from these contractors, which was fantastic to see. An estimated $85,000 was spent at the shop, short-term accommodation, service station and on hiring local staff and machinery. The building company also built a community garden for the people of Yarralin before they wrapped up the project.
The house is now fully furnished and enjoyed by the team at the service.