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International visitors trading school attendance tips with Wadeye Yellow Shirts
In Australia’s largest Aboriginal community, locals working hard to increase school attendance have played host to international visitors, eager to trade tips on getting kids to school.
In Wadeye, four hundred kilometres southwest of Darwin, the Australian Government’s Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) was introduced to address poor school attendance rates. The appointment of new RSAS provider Batchelor Institute of Indigenous and Tertiary Education (BIITE) has led to infectious enthusiasm by the “Yellow Shirts”, the School Attendance Officers who work with the school and the community to increase school attendance.
BIITE is supplying new facilities and a new mentor which have been warmly welcomed by the Yellow Shirts. Additionally, each Yellow Shirt has been enrolled in a Certificate II in Family Wellbeing, giving them qualifications to help their future job prospects.
The Yellow Shirts also got a boost recently when they played host to representatives from the Royal Papua New Guinea Police Force visiting Wadeye to exchange ideas on keeping remote communities safe. Leonard Wai and Josephine Sipila joined the Yellow Shirts on the morning bus runs, helping kids get ready for school and the groups exchanged stories of school attendance issues in Papua New Guinea and Wadeye.
The recent RSAS “Blitz" also helped the community gain momentum to increase school attendance, with the RSAS team utilising the new Map app to identify those families that need help in getting their kids to school.
If the enthusiasm of the Yellow Shirts is a guide, it won't be long before school attendance in Wadeye increases and this remote community will again play host to international visitors keen to get tips from the Yellow Shirts.