Teaching what she loves and walking her own path, Naomi Train is making big changes on the Country she loves.

A TAFE NSW graduate and Brewarrina educator, Train travels to communities across 1,000 kilometres of western NSW to provide education to families through her Mobile Children’s Service, putting her Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care to good use.

Train began the role in 2010, taking a risk and moving herself out west.

“I came out to Brewarrina as a registered teacher to an Early Childhood education position that was focused on mentoring local staff in the Brewarrina community,” Train said.

“I travel 1,000 kilometres in different directions through all kinds of terrain and [go] to remote communities as well as properties in between.

“The diversity of where I would be teaching, who I would be teaching, moving across four to five different tribal areas and working with the local Elders of each community tailoring a program for the children present—those dynamics have changed a lot over the years.”

Train’s role has not only extended her professional experiences but has been paramount to her understanding of her own identity.

“We lost our heritage as a family, my Uncle found it. Myself and my Dad and my Uncle are really proud of who we are, it is not accepted in our family. My brother is starting to embrace who we are as a people,” she said.

“I had no idea I was coming out on Country, I thought I was just coming out here to this position. In my own life, I have a faith in Jesus, my Dad is a preacher.

“I was raised to have a daily walk with him, which is similar to what I’ve learnt during my time out here. There is a daily walking out of things in culture, that is kind of [how] Mum and Dad raised us to walk out of life with certain values and … be guided.”

Train struggled between pursuing her position in Brewarrina or another on the north coast of NSW. Following her intuition, she packed up her things and headed inland.

“I hit Walgett, wanted to turn around but I kept going. Then I hit Brewarrina and I had this complete, what I recognise in my faith as peace, came over me … people out here have taught me that when you come on Country there is that knowing. A culmination of both those came over me when I came home to [Wailwan] Country.

“I didn’t know about six months into it where I was … that I’d come home to Country.”

Taking the risk paid off for Train, who feels a strong calling to the work she does.

“Things will challenge you along the way, I’ve had so many losses of tiny ones, and then friends, and then Elders in community and that is part of living in these tiny communities where you are so connected.”

Train’s program allows a safe space for families with little ones to develop their own skills and to have the confidence to connect with organisations within their community

“You have the health services … to support Mums and Elders. Uncles as well, we have a lot of Uncles that are main carers. That is a big part of it, people say, ‘What are your outcomes?’ I have outcomes in terms of ages and stages of development, yet my main outcome is that people feel safe and that I can connect them and be a bridge for them to other services.

“They can cross over that bridge, I’m just a pathway in that, they have the strength to cross over and go to school eventually or go to the hospital or get a health check.”

“The goal is to let them know that they have a voice in the education of their children.”

“It is early intervention, and they say that is just for the children, but I feel that it is for families. It’s important for everyone to know that you are the first teacher, you have amazing skills and you can teach these little ones what you have been gifted with and they can make their own pathway through the education system.”

Adapting to COVID-19, Train has had to make full use of her online platforms to continue working and has been delivering fresh food to remote communities.

“Last year, six months was studying [online] and six months was fighting with suits to keep the mobile going. It is interesting and helpful that that kind of digital transition of how to adapt to online happened for me last year including the negotiation with the powers that be that give us funding,” Train said.

“Whilst being unable to travel and after seeking permission from the Elders, my team and I were able to have fruit parcels delivered and post or email packages of education programs and documentation to outlying communities, while adhering to COVID-19 social distancing, health and hygiene protocols.”

With a world of experience already, Train hopes she’ll have more to come.

“It doesn’t feel at all like work, I understand I have my hours and wage and that. But I feel like I just get to walk out in life where I’m … doing what I’m supposed to be doing. It doesn’t mean it is an easy path to walk but it is my path.”

By Rachael Knowles