Working in the Territory
The Northern Territory is one of the most exciting and rewarding places in which an educator can work. Whether you are a first year teacher or a highly experienced principal, Independent Schools in the NT provide challenges, stimulation, and an opportunity to make a difference.
Our schools are highly diverse. There are large stand-alone Independent schools in Darwin and small Christian schools in remote communities. Many schools have children from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. Other schools have wholly Aboriginal enrolments – but given that there are more than 100 Aboriginal languages and dialects spoken within the Territory, it should also be noted that there are large linguistic and cultural differences between many of these schools.
If you are working and living in Darwin/Palmerston or Alice Springs, you will have access to the convenience and comforts of any other Australian urban centre, albeit with a pace of life that is more relaxed than in the capital cities. If you are living and working in a remote community your lifestyle will be markedly different to city life – see below.
Wherever you teach in the NT, the climate can be challenging.
In the Top End, including Darwin, the Dry spans from May to October. The Wet spans November to April. Top temperatures average 32-33C year around, but there is much higher humidity in the Wet season.
In the Centre, summer maximum temperatures can be in excess of 40C and there can be extended periods of extreme heat. Winter maximums average 20C but the temperature can drop below 0C overnight.
More info: northernterritory.com/plan/weather-and-seasons
ABORIGINAL CULTURAL PROTOCOLS
If you have not lived or worked in the Northern Territory it is probable that you will not be aware of the different cultural protocols in place in different communities. It is obviously very important that you discover and observe these protocols. The difficulty is that asking direct questions about local cultural rules and traditions can cause offence. Try to learn whatever you can from colleagues, and exercise sensitivity and patience at all times.
LIVING AND WORKING IN A REMOTE COMMUNITY
Working in a remote setting provides an amazing opportunity to test and strengthen your teaching practices, to learn more about yourself and to form connections with the new people you live with. However, it is not for everyone. It may be the first time in your life where you are in a cultural minority, unable to speak the local language and uncertain about local culture.
As a teacher in a remote community, you are living ‘on Country’ – on land that has been designated by law as Traditional Aboriginal Land. If you are planning to go camping or sightseeing you will need to speak with community leaders, who can give you guidance on access protocols and general advice. Please note that permission to access particular places can change when a person passes away.
In many remote communities the strong preference of local people is that teachers dress modestly, both at school and within the community, and it is respectful to abide by this. The remote communities in which our schools are situated are also ‘dry’, with no alcohol permitted at any time.
As a general rule you will be provided with furnished accommodation, but you may want to bring additional items with you to make you feel more comfortable.
Take sensible precautions to look after your health. These include drinking adequate quantities of water to avoid dehydration; wearing hats and insect repellents; practising good hand washing to avoid contracting a whole range of easily communicable infections; and wearing safe footwear. Consider updating your tetanus and hepatitis inoculations before starting working and living remotely. You will not have access to pharmacies so ensure you have adequate stocks of any medications you require, as well as basic products such as cough medicines, cold and flu tablets, head lice shampoo etc. www.epharmacy.com.au is an online mail order chemist used by many people in remote areas - but there are a number of other reputable online suppliers.
For more information: Remote Teacher Guide