The Yuendumu School Council has attained a full complement of representation from across the community, reflected in the positions filled below:
- Pre School Representative
- Teachers Representative x 2
- Family Representative x 12
- Secretary Mentor
An extra position was created (secretary mentor). Previously the secretary position had been held by a non-Indigenous person.As a result the governance structure more accurately represents students and families of the community because all official positions are currently held by Warlpiri people.A quorum has been reached at each School Council meeting throughout 2016.It is noted that the Yuendumu School Council had not been able to obtain a quorum for a number of years.The shift came about as a result of a collaboration between the Yuendumu School and the Jintaku Mardani (coming together), PaCE project, auspiced by the Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC).
The PaCE project commenced in Yuendumu on 1st June 2014, and aimed to strengthen engagement and participation of parents and community at Yuendumu School and the Jaru Learning Centre.Communication with the Yuendumu School helped strengthen School Council processes by engaging community members in education governance in person, and through text messages, radio campaign and community events.The WCE community based staff were also elected onto the board, alternating the position of Chair at each annual general meeting.
The key finding of this project unveils the importance of developing culturally sound communication strategies within a community engagement framework.It was found that direct interface between Yapa people; in other words, adopting yapa to yapa communication styles through texts, social media, face-to-face conversations and public announcements at cultural events, dramatically enhanced community engagement.Importantly, this work needs to be undertaken by community or youth leaders. One WCE action, which aimed to strengthen the Yuendumu School Council, showed that a quorum could not be reached when kardiya (non-Indigenous) teachers alone approached community representatives requesting their attendance at the Yuendumu School Council meeting.However, when yapa leaders and mentors led the engagement process, the Yuendumu School Council attained full representation. This also suggests the significance of cultural mentoring and the effectiveness of Warlpiri communication styles in community engagement.
The WCE initiative also worked closely with the Yuendumu School Council on forming a partnership with the Council of Government School Organisations (COGSO).WCE staff informed the Yuendumu School Council of the opportunity to contribute to the review of the Education Act (2016)facilitated by COGSO.As a result, the Yuendumu School Council placed a submission that proposed to redefine the term ‘parent’ to accommodate an Indigenous worldview.Legislation passed successfully changed the definition of ‘parent’, to recognise Indigenous customary law and tradition in relation to the responsibility of a child, which came into effect on 1 January 2016 to read:
A parent of an Aboriginal child includes a person who is regarded as a parent of the child under Aboriginal customary law or Aboriginal tradition (Education Act (NT).(Northern Territory Government 2016)
Coinciding with this action, WCE Initiative informed the Yuendumu School Council that its constitution of 1987 was in breach of current education regulation.Since this facilitation, the Yuendumu School Council has worked closely with COGSO and updated its constitution to meet current standards.