20 Year 9 students from Matthew Flinders Anglican College embarked on a Western Service Learning Tour last month, in partnership with the Leichhardt-Chinchilla Anglican Mission Area (LCAMA) and the Murilla Community Centre in Miles, approximately 300 km west of Brisbane.
The students were mostly musicians, including singers, brass, woodwind and strings players, percussionists and pianists, and they were accompanied by Mr Nick Campbell (Director of Music) and Ms Julene Robertson (Head of Music – Secondary), Dr Alec Hamilton (school counsellor) and The Rev’d Lizzie Gaitskell (chaplain/organiser).
The purpose of the trip was for students to engage in both service and learning activities and to spend both time and money in rural Queensland.
This was achieved through coordinating with our Western Region partners of two years – the Leichhardt-Chinchilla Anglican Mission Area, the Murilla Community Centre and other service providers.
Students and music staff put on three concerts – two at aged-care facilities with the lovely residents of Southern Cross Care (Taroom), Carinya and Milton House and the Murilla Respite Program (Miles).
Our final concert involved our students and staff engaging in a workshop and joint concert with Ms Roxy Bidgood (Miles SPS music teacher) and the amazing music students at Miles State Primary School.
Our staff and students shared meals with folk from the Taroom, Wandoan and Chinchilla Anglican communities, also meeting up with a few Miles Anglican people at the second of their concerts.
Through our friends in the Leichhardt-Chinchilla Anglican Mission Area, we were able to visit a cattle property outside Taroom and engage in an art workshop under the Leichhardt Tree on Taroom’s main street.
We also spent time in Miles at the Columboola Environmental Education Centre.
We have a wonderful resource in rural Australia that I think we in highly urbanised coastal regions can easily forget, misunderstand or take for granted, yet this is a place where our young people can learn important life lessons.
The tour allowed our Year 9 group to spend time with people who are currently living through drought and significant hardship, yet are passionately connected to the land.
We are so grateful to the beautiful people of Taroom, Wandoan, Miles and Chinchilla who welcomed us, and who helped make the tour a reality.
This is what students had to say about the service tour:
“It set into perspective how fortunate we are on the Sunshine Coast, where we have available water. I loved everybody’s reaction and the joy on their faces when we played and just sat down and had a chat with them. It was a real eye opener to learn about other people and their life’s story. I also found meeting a school student called Brianna a wonderful experience. She was such a beautiful young girl and I wish all the best for her future. It was very generous of many churches and families to feed us on this amazing journey, the kindness of everyone out there is extremely incredible, it is truly like nothing else. It was – no joke – hands-down the best week of my life.” (Lucy Leonard)
“My favourite experience that I had was performing and helping at Miles State School. Helping the younger kids with their music was extremely fun for me, and hopefully beneficial for the younger kids. It taught me how to interact with little kids and helped me appreciate just how desperate the situation is out in drought-affected rural Queensland” (Louis Prager)
“My favourite part of the trip was going to ‘Yo-Yo’, the Lethbridge cattle station. It was an eye-opening experience, not only to hear what the owners had to say about the desperate situation many people are in in rural Queensland, but to just see the land and see how dry it was. It helped me become more aware about how lucky I am for what I have.” (Emma Gannon)
“I believe that the most important thing that we learnt while we were on this tour is that is does not take a lot to spread joy around the community! Even in rural places which are ridden with drought, seeing the smiling faces of everyone we performed for really made us understand the importance of spreading positivity and keeping a positive attitude.” (Seina Keir)