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Nyoongar wellbeing and sports program helps keep kids in school

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A young woman stands in a classroom teaching several Indigenous children seated on chairs. In the background are other young adults.
Children working with iPads at Nyoongar Wellbeing and Sports Young Achievers Club (YAC)
30 Aug 2017

Nyoongar Wellbeing and Sports (NWS) is using physical activity, wellbeing activities, a breakfast program and homework groups to get students participating in school.

Based at Maylands in Western Australia, the NWS program has had success in in re-engaging 95 disengaged Indigenous students since the start of the project.

Former, NWS CEO Karyn Lisignoli said their program includes a wide range of health and wellbeing activities, which are delivered in partnership with six local schools.

“The programs that we deliver vary, and they depend on what that particular school community needs,” Karyn said.

“We do exercise classes with a breakfast program. So as well as kids coming along and having some healthy tucker in the morning, they also have an opportunity to get half an hour of exercise and get that built-up energy out of them. Then they can sit down in the classroom, and get the oxygen pumping around the system.”

“In some schools we do lunchtime activities, in some schools it’s after school activities, and all game-based physical activity.”

These activities have benefited students who were previously struggling at school. The feedback from teachers has been very positive.

“We are getting fantastic anecdotal evidence from the teachers, and from the parents and the students about how much they value our programs and how much they love being there, and how much they’ve seen an improvement in the children’s behaviour,” Karyn said.

“But we’ve also got some very real evidence that these students that were previously disengaged are now engaged as a result, and that’s only over two short terms.”

The programs also provide Indigenous students with a sense of safety, as well as pride in who they are.

“They feel very proud of themselves as young Aboriginal people because they’re attending programs delivered by an Aboriginal organisation, by outstanding Aboriginal role models, that’s all based around strength and capacity,” Karyn said.

“We work with the community to help them see their strength, their resources and their ability to be able to take responsibility for themselves.”

“So overwhelmingly the feedback we get is: we feel safe; we feel proud to be Aboriginal when we come to your program; we feel that we learn more about how to be healthy and how to take responsibility for our own lives; and we feel much more motivated to do exactly that.”

Find out more

Getting children to school and improving education outcomes which give children the best start in life is a key priority of the Australian Government.

The Nyoongar Wellbeing and Sports receives funding from the Australian Government through the Children and Schooling Programme which is part of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.