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Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (October 2011)

Published: November, 2011

Students & family with the school opening plaque

Lilla school opens again

Since the beginning of the year, 19 students have been studying at the school, which was officially re-named “Watarrka School” by Minister Karl Hampton on 22 September.”

Traditional owners of Lilla outstation, sisters and budding tourism entrepreneurs, Vera and Sadie Williams, were the driving force behind this success.

One of the tourists visiting their outstation, Wilma Lambert, turned out to be a retired principal from Tasmania.

They got talking around the campfire one night and ended up asking her to teach their grandchildren.

Together with their relatives from Ulpanyali and Wanmara they successfully lobbied the Education Department to re-open the school.

Wilma accepted the teacher job and is supported by her teacher husband and her son, a professional chef.

“We were looking for someone like Wilma to come here and teach”, said Vera Williams.

Is a very warm and patient lady who works well with the community and listens to the parents.

She’s a good teacher and the children like her.”

Ngurratjuta Aboriginal Corporation came to the party by doing the bus run between the Watarrka communities, a tour operator helped paint the building and the Kings Canyon Resort donates food for school meals.

Lilla community has decided to use rent money from the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park Community Development Project to build a shelter where the children can enjoy their lunch and where their uniforms can be laundered.

Vera says its’ important that they learn “both ways”.

“We want our kids to grow up in a strong way and go to school every day so they can work as rangers, tour guides, lawyers and teachers and to run the resort”.

Her message to the government is to support outstations by supporting education:

“We need the school to stay open because we have a lot of family coming back with little ones. Everything is starting to fall into place”.