Remote School Attendance Strategy eNewsletter 6: June 2016

Indigenous AffairsEducationRemote School Attendance Strategy
Thursday, 30 June 2016
Publication author(s):
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Publication abstract:

Welcome to the sixth edition of the Remote School Attendance Strategy newsletter, and our first for 2016. 

In this edition, we look at how Doomadgee in Queensland is working as a community to increase school attendance, meet the new RSAS mentor in Pipalyatjara, South Australia, and profile Queensland SAS Minnie Kenna, who recently won a Mt Isa Legend award for outstanding commitment to school attendance and community service.

In coming months, the RSAS E-Newsletter will change, with an increased provider focus, best practice case studies and interesting ideas for school attendance. The eNewsletter will be a point for RSAS providers to share the work their teams are doing and learn from other teams and providers about new and dynamic ways to tackle attendance.

Deadly Developments in Doomadgee: Doomadgee Education Taskforce

Image: Doomadgee State School Census Day school assembly (image supplied by Doomadgee State School).

Doomadgee State School wants all their students to get a great education, and the building blocks for a great education begin with students coming to school each and every day.  So what do you do when school attendance is consistently low?

In Term 4 last year, the new school principal of Doomadgee State School and PM&C regional staff worked together to develop a Doomadgee Local Education Taskforce to focus specifically on increasing school attendance at the local school.

The Doomadgee Local Education Taskforce consists of representatives from the Doomadgee State School, the Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council, the Queensland Police Service, the Family Responsibilities Commission, Community Development Programme Provider and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The taskforce met late last year and agreed to focus their efforts on the return to school for Term 1, 2016.

The beginning of the school year saw a concentrated and coordinated ‘return to school’ effort by all taskforce members and supported by the community. Activities included:

  • developing new school attendance promotional materials such as a new community school attendance logo.
  • weekly school attendance rates data to be prominently displayed in service providers’ waiting or reception rooms.
  • a community Education Yarn with parents community members around education as a priority for their children; challenges and resolutions.
  • Indigenous role models promoting the importance of school - the Preston Campbell Foundation team engaging with community by sitting with families and promoting the importance of attending school as well obtaining families views of school and education more generally and where appropriate debunking myths about the school.
  • CDP and RSAS staff involved in assisting new families with student enrolment forms
  • School Open Day on Census day.
  • Community school attendance pledge.

The efforts clearly paid off with the greatest number of student enrolments seen for many years and the week 1 school attendance rate at its highest since RSAS started. At the February meeting of the taskforce, members agreed to shift the focus to maintaining the attendance rate and opening up the membership to other service providers to sustain this great start.

In the next edition of the RSAS eNewsletter we will take a closer look at the Doomadgee approach to school attendance- the Doomadgee ‘Count Me In’ campaign.

Image: RSAS mentor Sam meeting the students at Pipalyatjara Anangu School.

Pipalyatjara welcomes new RSAS mentor

RSAS mentors play an important role in supporting SASs and SAOs, engaging with parents, caregivers and community members and managing the delivery of RSAS on the ground.

The students and staff at Pipalyatjara Anangu School welcomed Pipalyatjara’s new RSAS mentor, Sam Mitchell, at a school assembly in Term 1. During the warm welcome the school principal spoke to the students and teachers about the work the RSAS team does and the important role Sam would play. Sam was presented with a team shirt and other resources to help him settle in to the new role. 

The following night Sam volunteered to be part of the community film night and played an important role in the set up and running of the evening. More than sixty communtiy members attended the event which was a great opportunity for  parents, cargivers and students to meet Sam and have a chat.

Image: Students watching the movie 

Introducing …. Staff Spotlight!

We all know that the RSAS teams are the driving force behind the Remote School Attendance Strategy.  ‘Staff Spotlight’ lets us find out a little more about the amazing individuals working on RSAS across Australia. 

Image: Minnie Kenna, pictured with local member Robbie Katter, received the Mount Isa Legend Award on Australia Day.

Minnie Kenna is a SAS in the remote community of Camooweal, North West Queensland. This year Minnie received the Mt Isa Legend award for her outstanding commitment to school attendance and community service.  Minnie is a much loved member of community and is passionate about helping students have the best start in life.  Growing up on a station in the Northern Territory, Minnie is more than familiar with the challenges of getting to school when you live in a remote area… here Minnie talks about what motivates her and describes her work with RSAS.

What does the average day look like for you?

My day usually starts at 7:30am when I go around picking up the kids to get them to the breakfast club. I know who’s going to sleep in and wake them up, do another run and pick up, then go back and get the sleepy ones. My days are often busy and there is always something interesting happening. Today I was up early organising a barefoot fashion show for 40 students and the whole community to watch!

What is your favourite thing about working on RSAS?

I love working with all the kids in community and I have great relationships with all the families in town. There are some kids who are very keen to go to school but I get great pleasure and satisfaction in getting the ‘hard ones’ to school.  Sometimes it’s a long process too, but it’s worth it.

How did it feel receiving the Mt Isa Legend award?

To be honest, I had no idea I was up for the award! It was a lovely surprise. Anne Seymour, the local councillor for Camooweal, presented the award at the school assembly. All I could think when I was getting the award was ‘This is because of the kids, the kids helped me get this, if it wasn’t for the kids, I wouldn’t have got this’. At the end of the day, it’s all in a day’s work, I love what I do.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love gardening and I find it very relaxing. On the weekend I usually have Country and Western blasting while I bake or when I’m driving to Mt Isa to visit my family.



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