Wangetti moth­ers’ school could grow

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - MADI­SON WIL­LIAMS

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.

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