In the arid interior of the Northern Territory, where little else survives, there is a town. Ten hours from Darwin and fringed by some of Australia’s largest cattle stations, living in this community means existing with a sense of space that is unfamiliar to the modern human condition. The light here is hard. In the morning it refracts onto the landscape in a way that makes the whole place seem burnished. The main drag doesn’t boast much: a few retailers, a pharmacy, post office, supermarket, petrol station, pub. Take a hard right past the watery temptation of the public pool and walk until you come upon a cluster of low-slung tin roofs. This is Tennant Creek High. Inside, you will find twenty-two-year-old Liv Vizard, an associate with the Teach For Australia program.
Six months ago, it seemed that Liv had a penchant for the cosmopolitan: residing in inner-Melbourne, she had just graduated from one of the city’s largest universities and was hitting her strides in the advertising sector. Soon, however, a sense of doubt began to penetrate her urbane lifestyle, “I realised pretty quickly it wasn’t for me”. Liv developed a hankering for space, distance, difference. She did some googling and stumbled across Teach For Australia (TFA), a non-for-profit that seeks to resolve educational inequity in Australia by sending emerging pedagogical talent to low socio-economic, regional and remote areas in a bid to resolve critical staff shortages. In order to achieve this aim, TFA facilitate an employment-based pathways program that allows participants to study their Master of Education while working full-time in one of the association’s partner schools. Within their workplace, associates are provided with extensive support from an appointed mentor.
Liv concedes that remote learning comes with a unique set of challenges, namely low staff retention. However, she is enamoured with the strong sense of community that binds Tennant Creek. Participating in board-game nights, darts, communal gardening and a trade-system involving artisanal yogurt and bread production, the twenty-two-year-old is enjoying a less tech-centric lifestyle. Liv has relished the qualitative relationships that living remotely facilitates, “my students serve me at the supermarket, and I watch their footy games on the weekend”. She eagerly anticipates the next eighteen months of placement.
Find out more about the Teach For Australia Program here: https://www.teachforaustralia.org/about-us/faqs/