What I learned on the Indigenous check-in tour
Being a New Zealander of Maori descent who has lived in Australia for four years, I’m embarrassed to say my knowledge of Indigenous Australia is pretty basic. So the chance to be a part of Telstra's first Indigenous Check-In Tour in the Northern Territory was pretty exciting.
I was part of an 11-person team from various parts of Telstra, including Global Contact Centres, Telstra Countrywide, Telstra Small Business, Sustainability, Advocacy, Telstra Health and Networks.
Our first visit was to Yuendumu, an Indigenous community of approximately 800 people about three hours northwest of Alice Springs. It was an early start, with a long drive across beautiful countryside - I never realised the desert could be so beautiful! The people of Yuendumu were amazing, warm and kind. The kids were so happy and inquisitive. Enquiries were mainly about prepaid mobiles and fixed internet connections.
Our second day took us to the community of Santa Teresa, 85km from Alice Springs and nestled below a hill. This was a particularly frustrating day as connectivity was patchy and though I only had to deal with it for one day, it allowed me to feel what the community encounters from time to time. Again, the main enquiries I received were about prepaid mobile services.
Day three took us to the community of Hermannsburg, 131km southwest of Alice Springs. Enquiries here were very different. People were having trouble confirming their address details. Many houses in communities are identified by lot numbers, rather than house numbers, so this can create confusion for customers wanting to verify their account or connect a new service.
Over the past couple of days I hadn’t really had the opportunity to leave our site or explore the surrounds. However, towards the end of our stay in Hermannsburg, the team and I went across the road to play basketball and cricket with local children at the recreation centre. It was the perfect end to a busy day.
Day four took us to Amoonguna, just 15 minutes from Alice Springs. It was very quiet in the community this day, as residents were preparing for the release of a documentary about their community and some of the issues they face.
During the tour, a film crew documented our trip. I was lucky enough to sneak off with the film crew to see Simpsons Gap and Indigenous rock art at Emily's Gap. However, I can't say I loved having the camera lens pointed my way, so thank you Jamie and Rich for your patience and instruction!
It was an experience I would happily take part in again. My knowledge of Indigenous Australia is still very basic, but I now have some experience of some communities, and the desire to learn more. To know I work for a company that can really make a difference to these communities and connect them to the world is amazing, and I am proud to be a part of that.
Find out more about Indigenous employment at Telstra.