Student embraces call of the wild on Kokoda

01-Jul-2014

Indigenous youth leader Joelene Puntoriero donates educational materials to an orphanage near the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea

Indigenous youth leader Joelene Puntoriero donates educational materials to an orphanage near the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea


An Indigenous youth leader’s journey of self-discovery on the Kokoda Track has strengthened her passion for the environment.

Darwin-based Arrernte woman Joelene Puntoriero said mental endurance was more challenging than the physical when completing the 96km trek in Papua New Guinea.

Joelene was one of 27 youth leaders from across the country to complete the Kokoda Leadership Trek, in the Jobs Australia Foundation Indigenous Youth Leadership Program.

“It’s such a personal journey. It’s really a path of self-discovery,” Joelene said.

“You need to have the discipline and the positive mindset to keep encouraging yourself to keep going.”

The group donated a range of educational materials to an orphanage near the Kokoda Track.

Joelene said viewing the wildlife and surroundings on the track fuelled her desire to enter a career that involved working in the field and collecting flora and fauna samples.

She has applied to enrol in a Bachelor of Environmental Science at Charles Darwin University for next semester.

“Papua New Guinea is so much like Darwin,” she said,

“I see huge opportunities here in Darwin, and I definitely am going back to Papua New Guinea.”

Joelene will complete her Indigenous Youth Leadership Program in October. She is currently enrolled as an Australian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges Education (ACIKE) Preparation for Tertiary Success student at CDU’s Casuarina campus.

ACIKE is a collaborative partnership between Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education and Charles Darwin University.

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