1200km east of Port Hedland, 850km west of Alice Springs. Here lies Kiwirrkurra, the most remote community in Australia, and perhaps the world.
Set upon a small clay pan in the heart of the Gibson Desert, Kiwirrkurra is the home of 200-odd locals who tend to keep things quiet. But that didn’t stop them from pumping the music and setting the stage for the community’s first ever fashion parade last week.
With the whole town in attendance, 30 locals aged 10 – 25 dressed in clothes donated from across Australia, and took to a catwalk made of old solar panels in an old tin shed that had once served as the community store.
The event was developed by Thomas Worrigal, a youth development officer who works in the region. He hopes such shows will help instil a sense of pride into the young people of Kiwikurra, who rarely have the chance to interact with people outside of the community. “Coming from a small remote community myself, you grow up with a lack of self confidence in life, and we turned it around and made it fun and educational,” he told the ABC.
Outreach, and a sense of worth are critical for remote communities, particularly indigenous ones. Indigenous people between 15-24 are more than five times as likely to commit suicide than their non-Indigenous counterparts, due to a mental and cultural dislocation, as well as changes to their physical environment due to climate change and land clearing.
Kiwikurra’s isolation has provided the community with a fascinating history. The Pintupi people who inhabit the region were the last to make contact with European society, nearly 200 years after Australia was claimed as British territory. It wasn’t until 1984 that most encountered the modern world, however. That same year, they opened their home to the last of the desert wanders, the Pintupi Nine, fearing what would happen to them if they came into contact with white communities.
Mr Worrigal hopes that the fashion show will become an annual fixture on the Kiwikurra calendar.