Demystifying boarding school for the Mount Liebig community

Mount Liebig is a small community located 10 hours west of Alice Springs and English is the third or fourth language for most community members. No child born in Mt Liebig has ever completed Year 12 and anyone wanting to complete high school needs to move away to continue their education. Understandably, this is a little (or a lot) daunting.

Waltja Tjutangku Playapayi Corp (Waltja) is a community development organisation, cultivating relationships with remote Central Australian communities. Their main role in Mt Liebig has been running financial literacy, culture and at-risk youth programs.

The organisation received a $12,033 from the ANZ Seeds of Renewal program to launch their Tjunguringanyi (Joining Together) community-based project to support senior school education in the Mt Liebig community.

Spreading the word from boarding school students

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The Tjunguringanyi (Joining Together) project used the funds to provide communications resources in Mt Liebig to promote the benefits of boarding school to the community and ultimately increase the uptake of high school education.

They used noticeboards, Facebook and videos to share stories from students away at boarding school with families back in Mt Liebig. This helped to increase knowledge among all families of life at boarding school, help to reduce homesickness for the students and build confidence of families to prepare then support their children to go to Boarding School.

The Reconnect FaceBook Group doubled in number over the year, with people from Mt Liebig,

Papunya, Ikuntji, Areyonga and Nyrripi joining and the students have shown a strong interest in building their skills in photography, posting in social media and filming and editing short videos.

One key highlight was Mt Liebig students that attend Yirara College in Alice Springs, were featured on the weekly TV school news bulletin called Yirara News, which can be watched on ICTV. This is a free community Channel, which made it more accessible for community members that don’t have the internet or smart phones.

Tjunguringanyi (Joining Together) will continue to grow and support students

This project has achieved it goals of reducing family fears and demystifying the experience of boarding school, by showing positive experiences and keeping the community more connected with the students living outside the community. Attending boarding school is (slowly) becoming seen as something that is quite typical, rather than a daunting prospect.

Waltja will keep working with the community members of Mt Liebig, as well as the Department of Education NT, Yirara College (in Alice Springs) St Johns and Kormilda Colleges (Darwin), Shalom College (Qld), Wiltja (SA), and community elders to support the engagement of young people with school and education.

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