Country students rewarded with a sea change

A group of Aboriginal students from a remote two-shop town in western NSW recently travelled almost 800kms to Sydney to have the time of their lives.

The 10 students from Goodooga Central School had been chosen for the trip to the big smoke late last term through a good-behaviour reward program funded by the local Walgett Police Station and Aboriginal Land Council.

For five days the students got a taste of Sydney high life. They were guests of the NRL South Sydney team where they watched a match against the Cronulla Sharks and attended an NRL training session. They also played touch football with the Sharks, surfed with world champion surfer Layne Beachley at Bondi Beach, went yachting on Sydney Harbour and visited Taronga Zoo.

Taking away lasting memories

Goodooga Central's principal Ray Brookes said the students came home with memories most students could only dream of.

"These students will take something away from the school that many students don't take away with them because they don't get the opportunities given. They will cherish those memories for the rest of their lives," Mr Brooks said.

Mr Brooks said while the focus was on fun, the trip exposed the students to Aboriginal culture in the city where they visited the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence and Redfern's The Block.

Developing stronger relationships

Aboriginal community liaison officer at the Castlereagh Local Area Command Isaac Gordon said the main aim of the program was to develop stronger relationships between the local Walgett police and the Goodooga community.

"It was good for them to get out and a great reward for them. They came back knowing there was life outside of Goodooga.

"The parents and the community working together with the police was the best part of the trip."

Mr Gordon said he had already been discussing with the Goodooga community a kayaking camp for the students who missed out.

Photo: Goodooga students broaden their horizons. Photo supplied by Goodooga Central School.

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