Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi

'Doing Good Work with Families'

I have been working as a mentor to the Media team over the past few years in varying capacities. Thanks to the generous 4 years of funding provided by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation I have been able to develop a capacity building strategy with staff. Knowing we have long term funding means we can focus on both personal development and team development. Part of my role has been to draw on my previous experience of working within online media and marketing teams to help bring the media workers together as creatives.

When working in a creative team, there are deadlines and quality control issues to deal with. Also, because no single person can deliver an entire project, you need to draw on the strengths of other team members and honestly deal with your own weaknesses. In addition to the normal pressures of a creative office and art centre, Waltja media staff now go on bush trips to communities. During these trips they connect with youth who are not engaged in school or society and offer to teach them photography and video skills.

My role has been to help structure this process. Before each trip the staff write up a report saying what they plan to do and who to contact. They then need to connect with schools, youth workers, parents and others to locate youth who may be interested. After returning to Waltja and writing up a report, the media staff will often do post production work and create video clips out of the work created by the youth. On the next trip out, they show the video clips to the youth and hopefully inspire them to want to learn more.

I meet weekly with the media staff and help them to stay on track. We talk about strengths and weaknesses and how to help each other overcome obstacles. Lenny, Veronica, Jess, Mandy and Hayley have taught me heaps and I love coming to Waltja. Every day there is a new challenge and opportunity to grow.

When I am not working at Waltja I like to travel and usually manage to be overseas for 3-4 months every year, working online if required. Last year I visited the Old Silk Road in Xinjiang, walked the Komano Kodo trail in Japan, checked out the North/South Korean border in the snow, learnt how to do Fire Massage in Thailand and visited Rick’s Bar in Casablanca, among other things.

Everywhere I go, I talk about Waltja because I’m so proud of what Waltja does and the people who work there.