FROM LEFT: Jae Clarke, Ronan Bloomfield, Ricky Bloomfield, Nelson Satour. Photo courtesy Clontarf.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
I chatted with four young lads yesterday who’re doing well to very well at Centralian Middle School.
All have part-time jobs.
Three are in Year 9 and have clear career ambitions – doctor, engineer and professional footballer, respectively.
One in Year 8 is aiming for a gap year “to see the world” after Year 10 or 12, and is starting to save up for it.
The only remarkable thing about this is that many people would find it remarkable: The four are Aboriginal teenagers. They don’t fit the stereotype.
Closing the Gap isn’t a slogan for them: They are doing it. Along the way they make the most of mentoring by the Clontarf Foundation, and job opportunities offered by the three IGA Supermarkets owned by the local native title organisation, Lhere Artepe.
Ricky Bloomfield says about Centralian Middle School: “The learning environment is really good to be in.” His favourite subjects are health and physical education.
He may be going to Centralian College to reach Year 12, or he might be going to WA.
“Hopefully I’ll become an AFL player,” says Ricky.
And if that doesn’t work out? “Well, I haven’t really thought that far yet.”
He does what it takes to make his dream come true: “I keep my hopes high. Give myself confidence in myself. I train. Put some hard work into my fitness. Eat healthy and learn from people around me, my mentors.
“I learn to kick the footy properly. Sometimes I do it very horribly, they tell me.” He plays centre half back.
Nelson Satour has his eye on an engineering degree from Sydney University. He visited it last year: “It is very big and scholarships are easy to get for Aboriginal people.”
Nelson has been in the Middle School since Year 7. He came from South Australia with his mum in 2013.
“I was a bit nervous. Didn’t know anyone. New town. New people. It’s been all right. I got on with everyone. I was only supposed to stay for a year but I decided to stay to Year 12.”
He will switch to Centralian College next year.
It doesn’t sound like a brag but a statement of fact: “I excel at a bunch of things but mostly English. I’ve got to get that maths and science up there if I want to go on to engineering.
“I don’t want to sit around all day doing nothing. I want to make things for other people. It would be nice for them to enjoy what I do.” It could buildings, vehicles or electronics, he says.
Jae Clarke’s favourite subjects are health, PE, English and maths. He will “hopefully” make Year 12.
What could stop him?
“My grades, probably. I want to work as a doctor. I could be an assistant. A nurse, maybe. I’ll try my best and see if I can make it.”
Ronan Bloomfield, Year 8, Ricky’s brother, likes English and Social Sciences.
Why social sciences?
“You get to learn about the world, how it runs, about Prime Ministers.
“I’ll probably do Year 10. I’ve been asked if I want to go to boarding school.”
Ronan is thinking about having a gap year: “I might travel around the world. America, London.”
He’s started saving up for it from his job at Eastside IGA – just in case.
The four are saying it isn’t hard for young people to get a job in Alice Springs.
Says Ricky: “It’s pretty easy when you put your mind to it. If you put your mind to it you can go anywhere in life.
“In my first job I was a dishwasher at Sammy’s Pizza.”
Did he just walk into the shop and ask for a job?
“Yeah. Ron runs Sammy’s Pizza. He gave me a job washing dishes.”
“Yeah. He’s – like – a family friend.”
Ricky now works at the Eastside IGA too: “Sometimes I stack the shelves, sometimes I work at the front, or cook chickens, or put drinks in fridges.”
He says he has many friends who have a job, some going to other schools.
Nelson has been working at Flynn Drive IGA for over a year. It is his first job. He asked his dad to write his resume but his dad insisted that Nelson fill it out. He got a call to attend a meeting.
“It was a bit of a wait but I got the job,” he says. He does two shifts a week, one after school and one on the weekend.
Ronan has had his job, his first, for only eight days. Brother Ricky made the introduction.
“When I first started there was a little bit – like – shame and all that. You might say the wrong thing. I let my uncle’s friend do all the talking for me.”
How did he get over the shame?
“I just faced my fears and did it by myself. If I need anything I can call my uncle who works at the front. He gives me advice.”
Jae works at the Northside IGA: “It’s a pretty easy job” similar Ricky’s. Jae’s been doing it for half a year. “I like it.”
Ricky and Nelson expect their further studies and their careers will take them away from Alice Springs. Will they come back?
“Not sure,” says Nelson.
“Probably. Not for too long. Alice is a good place – sometimes. There are probably better job opportunities in the long term somewhere else in Australia, or the world.”
Says Ricky: “If I do make it big time I’ll probably stay in the city where I get drafted to and come back to Alice to visit pre-season time ’cause I’ll be missing the beach more than staying in the desert.”
Would Jae come back as a doctor? “I like Alice Springs, very much. I’ve been here since I was born.”
Will Ronan come back from his globe trotting? “Sometimes. To say hello to the family. Maybe for a month or two.”
I rush to take photos. The interview time is up. Ronan is due to start his shift at Eastside IGA in five minutes.