September, 30 2012
Port Hedland
Annet van der Voort


I have lived here for twenty years, and I am originally from New Zealand. I came here as a backpacker to make money so I could go overseas. I married a local Indigenous, man and we have three children. I love Hedland, but the town has changed, especially in the last three years.

I work 14 hour days and I have five different jobs that help Hedland be Hedland. During the week I start the day at 8am and finish at 9pm. Sunday is my only day off, so the most precious thing is time. I work at Cassia Primary School with children who have special needs. I am also the Ballet Teacher at JaBat, a not-for profit dance school that has been operating in Hedland for 10 years. The school offers classes from pre-kindy to advanced in
classical ballet, jazz and tap. We teach the Cecchetti Ballet Australia syllabus. It is the only school north of Perth to Darwin that can teach children to university level.

I do love it, I love the girls; they are absolutely beautiful students. It’s important for girls coming from other places to have the opportunity to do things that make them feel graceful and pretty; one of my students was really depressed when she came here, and dance was the only thing that brought her out of it.

We have 96 students, which is less than 2 years ago when we lost 32 families because of changes to FIFO policy, so it’s been a bit hard for us to manage financially, but I just cannot give up on my students and close the school. Even now, I’m staying on for them and I’ve had to split my family, my children are now down in Perth. My daughter Georgia at 13 has had to managing boarding, school and dancing part time at an elite leave. This is what some of us do to make Hedland a home for ourselves and others.

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