g-oz Travel Program 2022 – A week in Melbourne

g-oz Travel Program 2022 – A week in Melbourne
November 25, 2022 AGC

g-oz Travel Program – A week in Melbourne

Since 2010, over 200  Girls From Oz participants have travelled on 14 Travel Programs across five capital cities. In November 2022, g-oz embarked on its most ambitious program to date, bringing 34 girls, 1 trainee and 10 supervising adults to Melbourne for a week of shared cultural exchange.

The 34 girls selected as part of g-oz’s 14th Travel Program are some of the most engaged participants from the 2022 g-oz Community Programs. For the first time, the selected group was made up of girls from all five communities g-oz visited throughout the year – Kowanyama and Lockhart River in Far North Queensland, and Halls Creek, Carnarvon and Bidyadanga in Western Australia. This incredible milestone for g-oz was also very special for the team at ASPA and AGC, who had the opportunity to engage with and learn more about some of the country’s most remote communities.

Enjoy a look back on the wonderful week that was with our g-oz sisters in Melbourne.

Day One

From a staggering 4,293 kilometres away, eight girls, one trainee and two supervisors from Halls Creek arrived excited (and slightly bleary eyed) in Melbourne. So what does one do when they first arrive in Melbourne? Head to a Melbourne café of course (thanks Adeney Milkbar). After all, the girls had to fuel up for the first of many rehearsals for Melbourne Annual Concert, and a handful of smaller performances in the lead up. The obvious debut experience for the g-oz girls would be heading to a trendy Kew café for the first time, but the debut experience which might come as a surprise was using traffic lights for the first time. While we wouldn’t think twice about pressing the button and waiting for the green person to tell us when to cross, Girls from Oz General Manager, Kylie Lee-Archer, reflects on the joy that this experience brought to the girls as they eagerly waited for a tiny green person to stop the copious amounts of traffic.

We worked hard to put together an itinerary that provided diverse opportunities for the girls but some of the most important learning just came from the experience of being in a city! Not one of the five communities g-oz works in has a set of traffic lights, there are no escalators, no elevators, very few two-story let alone high-rise buildings.” – Kylie Lee-Archer

Day Two

While the Halls Creek girls were feeling rested from their first night in Melbourne, the g-oz girls from Kowanyama, Bidyadanga, Carnarvon and Lockhart River had only arrived in Melbourne in the late night and early hours of the morning. After a few icebreaker activities and get-to-know-you games though, the girls were energised and ready to learn their repertoire for the week. After only a few hours of rehearsals, the girls provided a preview of their work to the staff from the ASPA Head Office, and even with many sleep deprived girls, the performance was fantastic and brought a tear to more than a few eyes. The performance ended with a sing-a-long of Ngarra Burra Ferra with the ASPA staff before the girls headed back to their accommodation – most of which was with the kind AGC Host Families who were eagerly waiting to hear about the day.

Day Three

After a full day of singing, the g-oz girls gave their voices a rest to take part in a dance workshop with g-oz Instructor, Laura Brown, at Brighton Dance Academy. After learning new choreography and some fun routines, the girls enjoyed a picnic and some sightseeing at the iconic Brighton Beach including the Bathing Boxes – a must-see for any tourist.  The picnic was hosted by g-oz Corporate Partner, ATRIA Real Estate.  Founder Simone Chin is an enthusiastic supporter of the program and loved spending time with the girls.



A visit to Melbourne also wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the CBD and shopping experience in Bourke St Mall, and boy did it live up to the hype.

A lot of the girls would tell you that shopping was their biggest highlight!!” – Tiana Russo, g-oz Instructor

One of my highlights in the week was listening to the girls exclaim about the public bathrooms they went into – in shopping centres, restaurants, at the MTC. The fancy bathrooms were a highlight for the girls!” – Kylie Lee-Archer

A surprise for the g-oz girls was a visit to Melbourne Theatre Company to see a performance of Sunshine Super Girl – the heart-warming story of Wiradjuri Australian tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley. We’re very thankful to the team at MTC and their corporate sponsor K&L Gates for kindly organising the tickets to the show, as well as an exclusive meet and greet with the cast post performance.

The girls were absolutely enthralled by this performance. For many of our g-oz girls, it was their first time seeing a play and they didn’t know exactly what to expect.

The Q and A with the cast afterwards was especially rewarding for both the g-oz team and the cast to share stories and ask each other about their country and relationship with performing arts.

Afterwards the girls expressed how amazing they thought the performance was as well as their appreciation for seeing the story of Evonne Goolagong told in this way. Many spoke specifically at how important it was to see not only the trials in her life explored but her triumphs celebrated.” – Claire Warrilow, g-oz Instructor

Day Four

It was time for the g-oz girls to return to the land of singing, beginning the day with a performance at Insignia Financial in the Docklands.  The IOOF Foundation is part of Insignia and they’ve been substantial funders of the Lockhart River program since 2018. It was hard to believe that only a few days ago the girls had never performed together, yet here they were in a Melbourne high rise, delighting an audience through song.

The girls’ singing on this trip was so strong. They got confidence from each other and came to really love performing.” – Kylie Lee-Archer

Thanks to AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience), g-oz spent the afternoon working together at a “Failure Time” workshop. Through a range of fun activities, the girls were supported while practicing the art of failing, helping them to understand that failure is okay and often necessary to achieve a goal.

The girls had a fantastic time at the AIME “Failure Time” workshop on Thursday. One of the favourite activities was to keep the balloons up in the air with their hands, feet, heads and elbows! There was so much laughter and joy in the room. To take a moment to stand back and watch the smiles on the girls’ faces was beautiful.” – Ainsley Summerton, g-oz Instructor

The evening was met with much excitement and anticipation for g-oz’s first rehearsal with AGC ahead of tomorrow’s performance at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and Annual Concert on the weekend. Both g-oz and AGC choristers did a fantastic job learning and helping each other to create something pretty magical.

Day Five

Many will know the NGV as the oldest and most visited gallery in Australia. And for Day Five of the Travel Program, g-oz and Bel Canto choristers had the opportunity to perform there for an audience of g-oz supporters, including g-oz Patron, The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO.

One of the biggest milestones for many of the girls was overcoming shame that they feel when performing or speaking in front of large groups of people. To see all of the participants take on multiple performances a day throughout the week, singing and speaking loud and proud while standing together really illustrated the benefit of unity and trusting relationships.” – Tiana Russo, g-oz Instructor

After meeting the guests in attendance, the g-oz girls headed to the Keep It Cleaner Office for a fitness and meditation class with KIC Founders Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw.

Steph and Laura shared great messages about health and well-being with the girls and really encouraged them in this area of their young lives.” – Kylie Lee Archer

While the core focus of the Travel Program is the performing arts, the Program also aims “to expose the girls to other experiences and ways of thinking” – Kylie Lee Archer. After meeting positive role models Steph and Laura, the girls then ventured to AAMI Park to meet more inspirational figures – three new NRL Melbourne Storm recruits all of whom were young Aboriginal men from remote and regional places.

It was so great for the girls to hear the stories of these players including how hard they worked, their aspirations and their experience of moving to the city.” – Kylie Lee Archer

Day Six

After a much needed sleep in, the g-oz girls were headed to watch the junior@agc Concert! Before the concert excitement though, the girls visited Worawa Aboriginal College – a boarding experience and school for Aboriginal women (including a few g-oz Alumni) who come from Aboriginal communities right across Australia.

After learning about Worawa, the girls had their first experience of an AGC Concert, made all the better by sharing the experience with new friends.

This was the first time I really saw friendships blossom between the girls from different communities… The girls have so much in common (including g-oz and a shared enjoyment of the Performing Arts) that it was wonderful to see these new friendships blossom.” – Kylie Lee-Archer

Day Seven

The final day of the Travel Program had arrived and the feeling in the air was mixed. Some of the girls were ready to return home and share their whirlwind week their family. And some were putting off the thought of having to say goodbye to their new friends and AGC sisters. But first, the girls had an important job to do – to perform at two Annual Concerts to thousands of people! After a week of rehearsals and pop-up performances, the girls shone (unsurprisingly) singing “My Island Home”, as well as joining the AGC for the mega Lion King Finale.

Seeing them glow after being on stage and hearing about all their dreams and aspirations throughout the week really highlighted the strength that comes with confidence and believing in yourself.” – Tiana Russo

The Travel Program gave the girls a space to use their voices and feel no shame. Their courage to stand up in front of an audience, introduce themselves and represent their community was a massive milestone. Their participation in the program, willingness to learn and try new things was so clearly shown in every experience.” – Ainsley Summerton

We think the girls will agree that we couldn’t have asked for a better end to the trip!

Girls from Oz relies on the support of generous donors and partners to keep growing and creating opportunities like this Travel Program happen.



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