Wangetti mothers’ school could grow
THE principal of Australia’s first boarding school for mums and their children in Far North Queensland is already eyeing a nationwide expansion.
Classes have begun at Cape York Girl Academy, based at Wangetti Beach, halfway between Cairns and Port Douglas.
The former Wangetti Technical and Vocational Education College opened its doors on January 29 to 20 female students, including 10 mothers and their babies and 10 non-parenting students. The academy – also Queensland’s only indigenous girls boarding school – is a project of Cairns-based indigenous policy reform and leadership organisation Cape York Part- nership. Mums and their babies live and learn together at the school, between Port Doulgas and Palm Cove, supported by about a dozen staff and surrounded by friends and visiting family.
Academy principal Jessa Rogers said the young parents would gain early childhood qualifications at the school’s on-site learning centre.
The enrolled students and mothers are from across Cape York, with one student from the Tiwi Islands.
“All of our students follow the Australian curriculum, but they also do vocational education, so early-childhood qualifications are obviously a core part of what we do,” said Ms Rogers.
Indigenous perspectives are embedded throughout all the learning models.
“These students learn better when their content has an indigenous perspective,” she said.
According to Cape York Partnerships, teenage pregnancy is one of the most common reasons for indigenous girls dropping out of school.
Through yarning circles and community consultations, Cape York women asked for a place for girls to finish their schooling, to gain work skills and qualifications, and to grow themselves and their children as future indigenous leaders.
Ms Rogers, who carried out PhD research into the experiences of Aboriginal and Maori girls attending boarding schools, said there was potential for the academy to expand across Australia. “It’s my dream to start small, build a strong foundation, make sure our communities are well-consulted and ensuring that we’re meeting the needs of families, communities, our students and their babies,” she said.
“But then we’d like to expand to greater numbers and hopefully ... build more academies around the country.”
She said the school would also enable girls to live, study and remain in the Far North. “To have our own, specific indigenous school up here in Far North Queensland where we have a high indigenous population is quite a win for our community,” she said.
“Our kids don’t need to go down south ... having this facility that is close enough to Cairns is a real opportunity for these girls.” WHEN it comes to sorting fact from fiction, Coconut has it all sorted out. guys you’ve got to shout more drinks and take them out for dinners….. it’s called a sure shank investment.