Exploring Tennant Creek
Located approximately 500km north of Alice Springs and 1000km south of Darwin, Tennant Creek is the largest township within the Barkly Regional Council district which is the second largest local government area in Australia, covering an area 42 per cent larger than Victoria.
Centred on the junction of the Stuart and Barkly Highways, the region stretches from the old Telegraph Station at Barrow Creek in the south to the historical droving township of Newcastle Waters in the north, and 620km east to the Queensland border.
The resident population of the Barkly region is estimated at around 9000 that includes Tennant Creek and the smaller communities of Kargaru, Tingkarli, Wuppa, Marla Marla, Village Camp, Munji-Marla, Ngalpa Ngalpa (Mulga).
The next largest urban area is the town of Elliott and its surrounding district and the major communities and outstations of Ampilatwatja, Urapuntja, Alpurrurulam, Ali Curung, Canteen Creek and Wutunugurra (Epenarra).
There are 17 Aboriginal languages spoken across the region with many people speaking several Indigenous languages with English frequently being a third or even fourth language. Some of the larger language groups include Warumungu, Warlmanpa, Warlpiri, Jingili, Garawa, Mudburra, Kaytetye. Alyawarr, Anmatyerre and Wambaya.
WCE community based researcher Valda Shannon says their research focus is to identify ways to strengthen two way learning within the current education system.
She says mainstream education needs culture and language embedded to increase and enhance our children’s learning, and it needs to start with early learning 0-3 and go all the way through to primary school, high school and then even onto higher education.
Community researchers have identified many benefits from a WCE research approach including:
- researching our own people instead of others researching us
- allows us to start supporting our youth Wumpurrarni way
- identify and give youth tools from our own culture to strengthen their education and self esteem
- we can be better equipped to work with mainstream teachers to help them become more effective when teaching Aboriginal youth
- support teachers to better understand our culture and Indigenous ways of being, knowing and learning
- provides us with a way to ground our youth within their culture first so they can go forward to this sometimes daunting higher education space
- gives us ways to respond to our youth who say they want to step forward and take up higher education but need stronger support.