Newslines Radio: Excellence in leadership
Education is a powerful tool that can lead to greater opportunities and a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
It seems the schools that are having success are the ones that really connect with parents and community
Newslines Radio spoke to Dare to Lead Principal Advisor Associate Professor Bob Somerville and students from Kirwan State High School in Townsville.
Dare to Lead is a commonwealth funded national project with a focus on improving educational outcomes for Indigenous students.
In this program you will hear Bob talk about why he is passionate about getting our kids educated and the students from Kirwan High explain what makes their school so special.
The Australian Government recognises that increasing education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a critical component of Closing the Gap.
- Nathan Ramsay
- Associate Professor Bob Somerville, WA
Jonathon Nai, Kirwan State High School, QLD
Duane Gutchen, Kirwan State High School, QLD
Jalissa Ross, Kirwan State High School, QLD
PRESENTER: Hi, I’m Nathan Ramsay and you’re listening to Newslines Radio, an Australian Government program on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues
Today we’re looking at how some schools are doing things differently to make sure they educate and arm students with knowledge and confidence so our children have more opportunities and choices later in life.
Dare to Lead, funded by the Australian Government is a national project with a focus on improving educational outcomes for Indigenous students and each year The Dare to Lead Excellence in Leadership in Indigenous Education Awards are presented to schools.
PRESENTER: Associate Professor Bob Somerville an advisor to Dare to Lead spoke to Newslines about the importance of education.
SOMERVILLE: I guess one of the things that I am passionate about is education and for our people to be able to enjoy Australia as we should be because so many of our people are poor, live in conditions that they shouldn’t be living in, education is the way to break that poverty cycle. It doesn’t mean getting and necessarily getting a job but it certainly means being educated and being able to make the decisions that we have the right to be able to make and that’s why I’m passionate about education, I’m passionate about seeing a change in the outcomes of our kids.
PRESENTER: Kirwan State High School is located in Townsville in North Queensland and boasts more than 400 Indigenous students. The school provides a supportive environment for its students with an emphasis on attendance and achievement, cultural identity and getting families involved in their children’s education.
Kirwan High Indigenous Captain Christopher Nai spoke with Newslines Trevor Ellis.
NAI: We have homework class which is after school so if were having trouble with doing assignments and homework and stuff we would get the work done in the library in the afternoons. Some of the other programs we have are like cultural diversity so we have NAIDOC Week and all that, so schools might not do NAIDOC Week but we are very culturally involved at Kirwan so we have stuff like dances and all that stuff.
We have teacher aides so if there are people that struggle a lot with work we will provide them with a teacher aide during class which is pretty good, I think that helps you out a lot.
ELLIS: Are your parents heavily involved in what happens at the school?
NAI: Yeah my parents come to the meetings to see how we are doing in school and discuss what needs to be going on and what’s happening with us.
PRESENTER: Two other students who enjoy the supportive environment at Kirwan High are Duane Gutchen and Jalissa Ross.
ROSS: The education is good, you learn a lot especially if you sit there and work and put a lot of effort into what you do and it’s best that when you work you have to actually contribute what is being taught. The homework program is good when you take the time and the teachers take the time sit there after school hours and help you with assessments or work you need to catch up on, it’s really good and it actually works, it helps you out especially when you take the time to attend those homework classes after school hours.
A lot of cultural activities happens and non-Indigenous they find it very interesting and they take part in what’s happening.
ELLIS: What would you like to do when you finish Year 12?
ROSS: Go to university yeah in the health area, that’s my goal for next year.
GUTCHEN: There are heaps of opportunities there, great school, good teachers, great principal, just a good environment to be in.
ELLIS: What are some of the programs that help you?
GUTCHEN: Well the teachers are really engaged, they show a lot of support it’s just really fun. They’ve got after school homework programs for Indigenous kids it’s really good you can catch up on a lot of schoolwork.
PRESENTER: That was Trevor Ellis speaking to Jalissa Ross and Duane Gutchen from Kirwan State High School in Townsville.
Let’s finish off the program with Bob Somerville who we heard from earlier, as an advisor to the Dare to Lead program he has a message for parents.
SOMERVILLE: When we want youngsters to achieve and to achieve to their potential, it’s the parental involvement, it’s the teacher and the way they teach and the way the principal leads the school and ensures those factors are in place.
Now when it comes to parents, it doesn’t mean you have to be on the School Council, but to be an involved parent it means you have to be involved in your child’s education. Getting Johnny to school, making sure that Johnny’s in a school uniform, ensuring they’re there on time, checking up on how they’ve gone, listening to their reading, you doing the reading yourself with them.
They’re all the things that are really important when it comes to the parental involvement in a school, it’s absolutely integral to making the difference.
Now, what I often say to my people, to my family and when I’m talking with Aboriginal groups is the parent … a very simple thing to do with a teacher is to sit down and say, as an Aboriginal person here are three things that are really important to me that you need to know; that’s a great starting conversation because often we don’t have those conversations with teachers. They don’t understand what we do expect as Aboriginal people in the classroom and of our kids.
PRESENTER: That was Associate Professor Bob Somerville.
To find out more about how the Australian Government is working to improve the educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children check out the links on our website, Indigenous.gov.au.
You can also follow Closing the Gap on Twitter, and friend Newslines Radio on Facebook.
I’m Nathan Ramsay, thanks for listening to Newslines Radio.