Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (April 2012)
Maisie Kitson and Denzel on a recent trip to Government House in Canberra
Royalties for kids
Spending on school excursions
Residents of four remote communities are using some of their mining royalties to send schoolchildren on interstate school excursions.
Last year people living in Willowra, Lajamanu, Billiluna and Nyirrpi allocated $89,206 of their royalty and affected area payments to school excursions through their community development projects, GMAAAC and WETT.
The WETT Secondary School Support Program pays up to $2,500 per secondary student at Willowra, Yuendumu, Nyirrpi and Lajamanu Schools each year.
GMAAAC supports nine communities affected by operations at the Granites.
Nyirrpi community sent its schoolchildren on a trip to Sydney, where they took part in the Sporting Chance Program, meeting sport celebrities and visiting Sydney sporting venues.
The children roamed through the Sydney Aquarium, saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge, sailed on the Tribal Warrior, explored the Opera House, and swam at Bondi Beach.
Students from Billiluna School, situated in the Eastern Kimberley, travelled to Broome, where many children had the opportunity to shop for the first time in a town with more than one store, go swimming at the beach and ride a camel.
The children also visited St Marys College to get an idea of the possibilities available to them for continued study.
Willowra School took nine students to Canberra, where they visited the War Memorial, the Australian Institute of Sport, Questacon, the National Museum and old and new Parliament House.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives told members, including Prime Minister Gillard, they had special guests with them — students from Willowra who had been attending school regularly all year.
One student, Nadia Jurrah, said Parliament was “just like the classroom” after “the Speaker told the man to leave Parliament for one hour for being naughty”.
At the National Museum the students looked at the banner made by the members of the Willowra community to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Coniston massacre.
As well as providing educational and travel opportunities for students, the excursions reward good behaviour and attendance.
They not only boost school attendance, but encourage more involvement of parents in community schools.
Nyirrpi Acting School Principal, Ann Fowler said: “I have never had a better group to take away before, on the numerous trips I have been involved with”.
Parents also value the trips, noticing children return with more self awareness and self confidence.
Nyirrpi parent Kathleen Gibson said of her nine-year-old son: “It was his first time on an excursion. He was really happy. I was so proud.”