Eurobodalla - Arnhem Land link

Long term local Eurobodalla Greens member Jeff Aschmann returned late 2017 from a teaching assignment in a remote community in the Northern Territory. He swept back home like the backwash from a big wave of positive energy directed from Eurobodalla Shire to the township of Ngukurr in southern Arnhem Land.

The story began when Jeff put out the call last year for donations of musical instruments that he would take to teach music to the kids of Ngukurr (pronounced Nooka). He was overwhelmed with donations of $5000 worth of instruments all in excellent condition plus a large cash donation from the Deep River Choir. Amongst the donations were 3 violins, a mandolin, acoustic guitars, an electric bass guitar, a large djembe, a one hundred year old zither, a trumpet, a trombone and a melodica!

Once Jeff got the collection to the remote school (no mean feat in itself) it was added to the existing stable of instruments which included guitars, ukuleles and small djembes. The donated instruments added such magnetic force to the music programme that school attendance and educational outcomes were measurably enhanced.

Jeff has been employed to teach music under a Northern Territory Education Department program which has been deemed even more successful than previous years. Jeff reports that the school and the principal are very supportive and understand the happiness and self-confidence that music can bring to a young person’s life.

In addition to his teaching role Jeff has helped the community in its efforts to resist the onslaught of proposed iron ore mining and potential fracking in the catchment of the Roper River. These projects would impact both the shallow seagrass beds and the wetlands in the south-west corner of the Gulf of Carpentaria with serious consequences for dugong, fish and local and internationally migrating birds.

 

To all the Eurobodalla people who generously gave donations Jeff wants to extend a heartfelt thanks and a message that they have been part of “reconciliation in action”. Jeff intends to return to Ngukurr later in 2018 for another assignment and is willing to take more instruments with him. Contact him at jeffaschmann@hotmail.com

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