Happy 20th Birthday to our Return to Country program

On this day back in December 2002 Larrakia Nation started a program to help people stuck in Darwin return to their country. Aptly named Return to Country, this program remains one of Larrakia Nation’s most important and oldest services.

Opened by the late John Ahkit, Minister for Community Development on the 9th of December 2002, we are proud today to celebrate 20 years of our Return to Country program, and want to thank all who have been involved along the way.

Helped over 50,000 people get home

Funded by the NT Government, RTC is a cost effective and culturally safe way to help reduce anti-social behaviour in Darwin. There are many reasons why people visiting from communities find themselves stuck in Darwin without enough money to get home, and it’s common for people in this situation to sleep rough. By reducing itinerant numbers, we are making a significant contribution to reducing anti-social behaviour in Darwin. 

Since we started the RTC 20 years ago our program has helped over 50,000 people return home, and just last financial year alone, we issued almost 4500 one-way plane tickets.

Relationships with Services Australia is a key reason why RTC still remains              

Our collaboration with Services Australia (previously Centrelink) is important to the RTC model and a key reason why the program is still going strong.

Services Australia and RTC operate using a repayment system that allows people to get home without upfront fees and pay the cost of ticket back in deductions from Services Australia payments.

We would like to thank Service Australia for their ongoing support of RTC for many years which includes housing RTC in the Services Australia building in Casuarina.

One stop shop design

These days RTC offers a ‘one stop shop’ approach where people are offered a culturally safe place to book plane tickets, apply for Larrakia Nation ID cards, book transport to the airport or bus terminal or find emergency accommodation at Aboriginal hostels in Darwin.

RTC has been critical in supporting people get home safely during COVID peak periods. Together with funding bodies RTC was able to respond quickly to get large amounts of people home quickly.

Congratulations to the current and previous RTC teams who provide this vital service, and happy birthday RTC!!