Kakadu calls for voluntourists

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IN early June, DFAT’s downstairs caffeine dealer Keith Ashurst and his 13-year-old daughter Millie are escaping the cold to Kakadu for a spot of voluntourism.

Save the Children voluntourists Keith Ashurst and his daughter Millie.  Photo by Gary Schafe
Save the Children voluntourists Keith Ashurst and his daughter Millie.  Photo by Gary Schafe
The pair are only able to go on the trip, which includes a three-day hike through Crocodile Dundee’s backyard and a paddle down a hopefully not-too-crocodile-infested river, on the basis they will contribute $3000 each to Save the Children on top of the travel costs.

“This is my third time, actually,” says Keith, who runs Cafe Brindabella in the lobby of the foreign service’s Barton headquarters. About 10 years ago he went to Nepal supporting the same charity. His second voluntourism trip with Save the Children was to Laos, taking his son Jack along to broaden his horizons.

In the NT, they will help out Save the Children’s School Attendance Program, which started in 2008 and works in the communities of Knuckey Lagoon, Minmarama Park, Bagot, One Mile Dam and Gurdorka in the NT, and has partnerships with Ceduna Area School, Crossways Lutheran School, Koonibba Aboriginal School and Yalata Anangu School in SA.

Average attendance rates across all primary schools involved have increased from less than 60 per cent in 2010 to almost 80 per cent in 2013, according to the charity.

“I’m fundraising at work and at school Millie’s house is having a cupcake day,” says Keith, who’s a dab hand at making sweets.

“I’ve also been making toffees and chocolates for the last three months and selling those in our cafe separately so I can give all the money to Save the Children.”

The nine-day adventure runs from June 7 to June 15. More information at savethechildren.org.au

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