Joe Althouse

(OR2015)

Growing up I was fortunate enough to have my mum, who was a single parent, but yet she still supplied for my family and I. She instilled in me the importance of an education, as she knew that my journey in life ventured much further from the confines of my small hometown, Darwin.

Growing up in Darwin was a very interesting experience and one that I am most grateful for. My nana, similarly, taught me many things  but perhaps the most important was the ability she had to see our situation and not feel sorry for it, but to be grateful for everything we had.

Growing up we spent a lot of time in Aboriginal communities within Darwin. This was probably the most influential experience of my life because I was immersed into these communities and felt included within them. This taught me many things that I believe correlate with what I have learnt whilst being at Riverview. I learnt the importance of not giving money and hoping that the situation resolves itself, but giving of my time and learning the struggles that are very much present.

These two women are the most influential people in my life. They both faced many obstacles and barriers but fought on, often with no money in their pockets but a smile on their face.

My reality was a three bedroom house with my mum, nana, younger sister and three aunties a very crowded house. Although looking back we never had any issues. We never went to sleep on an empty stomach and we always had a clean clothes on our backs. We had our big eight-seat bus that almost everyone in Darwin knew, and we were happy.

All five of us kids attended a small public school called Alawa Primary School. As I said before, my mum instilled in all of us the importance of an education and what that could mean for us. My three aunties are older than me and attended the local middle school before going onto the high school. Naturally I thought that I would, like them, go to Dripstone Middle School then onto the High School.

However, my mum saw that I wanted bigger things then Darwin could offer. So, when I was twelve years old she came to me with a question, ‘Do you want to go to boarding school?’ she said. I turned to her, naturally without contemplating the possibility that I would actually get in, and said yes. So we went through this process of applying for a scholarship to attend a school in Adelaide. I got in on an Aboriginal scholarship and thought my world had turned upside down. I didn’t want to leave my family, because we were so close and knew everything about each other. But everyone in my family supported me and knew that this meant something bigger then myself. So when I was twelve, I packed all of my belongings and boarded a flight with my mum to Adelaide. When the time came for her to return to Darwin I just sobbed because the idea of not seeing her for ten weeks was so terrifying. I didn’t succeed in Adelaide for many reasons the schools ideology didn’t correlate to my own and I think that was the most tarnishing.

This period was hard for me because I felt like I had let my family, who had been supporting me, down.

So I left Adelaide and returned to Darwin. Fortunately my school principal in Adelaide knew former Head Master Mr Shane Hogan and organised me to meet him. I flew down to Sydney at the end of 2012 and met with Mr Hogan and he said something to me that I can never forget ‘I think God wants me to give you a second chance.’ Mr Hogan showed to me the spirit of the school and gave me the opportunity to redeem myself, not only for me but for my family and everyone who wanted to see me get to this moment.

For me, Riverview has been an experience I am most grateful for I’ve learnt many things that have given me the ability to go further in life. The friendships I have formed are bonds that I know will extend the boundaries of the gates. My relationship with God has grown as I’ve been blessed with such an amazing opportunity. Now I’m at the end of my time at the College but I will always belong to this place.

I wish to thank all of the Donors for allowing boys like me, who otherwise couldn’t attend a College like Riverview, the opportunity to. My experiences at the College are all products of your generosity and kindness, and I thank you sincerely for that.

Lastly I just wanted to thank Mr Reilly for being so supportive of me and all of the Aboriginal boys at the College, its not an easy task and I wish to congratulate you for doing so well. And finally to the people who brought me into their family, Richard and Kimberley Clarke. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me over the years  this is not the end of our journey together.