“Often private schools will spend a huge amount of money
sending kids on international trips to complete
community service in other countries, when we need help
in our own backyard. I started Remote Tours to provide
these schools with a platform and program in which they
could tour our own country at a much lower cost, and
create a substantial impact to the lives of many
Remote Tours involve students from schools in all major Australian cities and offer a
cultural immersion program where the children can briefly experience life outside of the
city, and complete community service activities to help these communities grow and
Why Reg started the Foundation
When Reg started Remote Tours, he was constantly exposed to various challenges
faced by Aboriginal communities within the NT. Reg was aware that the tourism
industry was based on visitors wanting to experience the unique landscape,
environment and lifestyle in central Australia, and didn’t want to run his company
without giving back to the communities that drew travellers there.
"For me it’s really important to have a charitable arm to
the business. I believe every tourism company should be giving back to the areas they tour.”
Reg was specifically drawn to the Lilla and Watarrka region as he noticed the school
had been closed down, and there were almost 30 local children who were living in the
community and not receiving any kind of education. The Traditional Owners residing in
the area were also exposed to poor living standards that were affecting their health.
Their homes were dilapidated, having been built 30 years prior with no maintenance
since. The walls were unstable and exposed to pests like lice and scabies.
Reg felt so strongly about making change, that he began using his own money and
time to give back to the Watarrka community. Reg purchased litres of paint, and would
spend his weekends painting the local houses and helping out with odd jobs around
the community. Since then, the medical centre in the area has reported a huge increase
in health standards of the locals, with less children developing conditions like asthma,
eczema and rashes.
Reg soon realised he was on his way to going broke with all the time and money he
was putting back into the community. He also knew that if more people were aware of
these challenges, they would be willing to donate small amounts to help improve the
living conditions of the locals. With the help of Campbell Hudson, Director of Denton’s
Law Firm Sydney, Reg started the Foundation (originally called the Lilla Foundation) in
Reg's role within the Foundation
Reg has played a vital part in not only re-opening the Watarrka school, but also
continuing its expansion to support the education of Aboriginal children in the region.
The recent and ongoing construction of the new school classroom has marked the
success of a 2 year fundraising campaign, and will allow children at the Watarrka
school to continue their education on country.
Paul Jensen, Chairman of the Watarrka Foundation said:
"Reg is the face of the Foundation and our man on the ground, without him we wouldn’t have such a strong connection with the Watarrka community. Reg is always consulting with the local communities and discussing what they want for their children, and is a driving force in making it happen.”
Reg's vision for the future
Now that construction for the second classroom is well underway, Reg is set on
improving other parts of the community to keep the children, and adults on country for
as long as possible.
Reg would like to focus on continuing the annual Sports and Storytelling festival which
provides children from various remote communities the opportunity to come together
and play sport, socialise and learn. Reg will continue to put a focus on making learning
and school a fun and social experience, to keep up the high school attendance record
of the Aboriginal children within the region.