Swapping beach for outback ‘a brilliant idea’ for schoolies trip

Xavier High School student Mason Collins, 18, has packed his bags and is heading to Yuendumu for his schoolies trip instead of the usual trip to the Gold Coast. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

Xavier High School student Mason Collins, 18, has packed his bags and is heading to Yuendumu for his schoolies trip instead of the usual trip to the Gold Coast. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

A XAVIER High School student’s planned adventure could be a forerunner for a new schoolies program.

Mason Collins, 18, is substituting the beach for the outback for his end-of-year celebrations after being inspired by a trip to Yuendumu through the school’s immersion program last year.

He packed his bags and arrived in the indigenous-populated community last Wednesday for a four-week stint.

Mr Collins’ distinctive schoolies trip, which he undertook on his own, will see him working in the school and camping on weekends with youngsters in the community.

“I wasn’t a real fan of doing the big Gold Coast schoolies,” he said.

“It is cheaper and probably safer here and I get a lot more out of it, so it’s more rewarding.

“I’d rather be here 100 per cent.”

Mr Collins’ return to Yuendumu impressed the Wagga Catholic Diocese; so much so, they are now considering creating a program to encourage all school-leavers to remote areas.

Xavier High School’s social justice co-ordinator Michelle Milthorpe said the diocese was looking into creating an alternative to schoolies program that would be based on the school’s immersion program.

“It’s certainly something they’ve flagged as a priority for the future,” she said.

“I think it’s a brilliant idea and I think the kids are looking for something different, particularly with our emphasis on social justice.”

She said Mr Collins’ desire to take a schoolies trip to Yuendumu proved the school was running a successful program.

“The aim is to continue that link with the community and the relationship the kids have with them,” she said.

Yuendumu was first brought to the nation’s attention after Liam Jurrah was the first indigenous person from a remote community in Central Australia to play senior football in the Australian Football League.

He was later charged with an alleged machete attack at a town camp in Alice Springs but was found not guilty last year.

When Mr Collins returns from his trip, he hopes to study teaching at Charles Sturt University.

“My ambition later in life is to come back to Yuendumu and be a teacher,” he said.

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