Educational Governance

The aim of this area of focus in Yuendumu is to strengthen the governance of local educational governing bodies through engaging parents and families and collaborating with local stakeholders including the Yuendumu School Council, the Walpiri Education Board and the Jaru Learning Centre.

After a deep consultation period of the different community members, the WCE team will put in place 5 activities to strengthen the governance of local educational governing bodies in Yuendumu.

  1. Increase the representation of Warlpiri parents on the Yuendumu School Council through collaborating with the Parents and Community Engagement (PaCE) program, operated by the Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC).
  2. Review and update the Yuendumu School Council’s constitution to integrate education regulation.
  3. Contribute to the review of the Education Act 2015 (NT) through the Yuendumu School lodging a submission that proposes the term ‘parent of a child’ recognises Aboriginal customary law and tradition in relation to the responsibility for a child.
  4. Reinvigorate the Warlpiri Education Board College through partnership development and community consultation to work towards establishing an independent Warlpiri Secondary College.
  5.  Facilitate the partnership between the Yuendumu Mediation Centre and the Yuendumu School to develop the Community Safety School Program, which aims to ensure the safety of children at school through the presence of experienced mediators or cultural mentors, who will work with school staff to reduce conflict in the school yards and classrooms

The Yuendumu School Council

The Yuendumu School Council has attained a full complement of representation from across the community, reflected in the positions filled below:

  • Principal
  • Chairperson
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • 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.

&nbsp;Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC) principles<br>  Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC) principles

Educational Governance

Educational Governance

Educational Governance

The Warlpiri Education Board

The Warlpiri Education Board (WEB) was formed in 2007 through a meeting of Warlpiri Triangle educators for the purpose of developing plans to establish an independent Warlpiri Secondary College.This partnership involved collaboration between the WCE community-based staff prior to and during their engagement in the WCE initiative, Yuendumu community, Educational Transformations and the CLC.In December 2015, WCE staff conducted extensive consultations with approximately 20 identified senior leaders, represented on the Yuendumu Lease Working Group. All leaders expressed great enthusiasm for an on-site secondary college as opposed to sending students away to boarding school.As a result, the Leased Working Group passed a resolution in 2016 to contribute $50,000 towards the operation of WEB to undertake further planning.The consultations shifted relationships between local stakeholders and partners, including the Yuendumu School and CLC. The CLC has also requested the WCE staff to conduct workshops to undertake further planning in support of establishing a Warlpiri Secondary College.

Jaru Learning Centre Steering Committee

In 2015, the WCE community based staff worked with Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE) to establish an advisory board, entitled the Yuendumu Learning Centre Steering Committee to oversee the educational activities of the Jaru Learning Centre. Throughout 2016, WCE staff also worked closely with BIITE to ensure the ongoing delivery of structured courses.WCE staff met with key personnel of BIITE from the Alice Springs campus and gained a commitment to deliver accredited training and to continue to negotiate such training with the managers of the Jaru Learning Centre. Learn more about Jaru Learning Centre

Educational Governance

Community School Safety Program

A community meeting was held at Peace Park in November 2015, which discussed concerns over the link between bullying and low school attendance. Jimmy Langdon, WCE community-based staff member, facilitated the meeting, which was attended by representatives from a broad range of local stakeholders.

Eddie Robertson, Indigenous Engagement Officer, Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM& C) stated, ‘we believe in education as education is vital for our children’s future - but let’s do something for the families to help their children by putting elders in to the school. We need to deliver the message in the community that the school is a safe place for every child.’

At the meeting, representatives agreed that the presence of elders in school would provide the Yuendumu School with extra resources to offer cultural mentoring to troubled youth affected by community unrest. The solution entailed; (1) local stakeholders working together to provide mediation support to the school on a needs basis, and (2) elders having a regular presence in the school grounds to monitor behaviour. On 23 March 2016, Yuendumu Mediation Committee prioritised the importance of the Community School Safety Program.

At this point, the WCE Initiative formalised a partnership through a service agreement between the Yuendumu School, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and the Yuendumu Mediation and Justice Centre (Central Desert Regional Council).Locally trained mediators from the Yuendumu Mediation and Justice Centre provided the following core activities over two to three days a week, throughout the school terms of 2016, including:

  • School lunch time duty roster
  • Classroom behaviour management assistance;
  • One to one student support;
  • Mediations among students;
  • Mediations involving parents and teachers, where required; and
  • Workshops on conflict resolution, building health relationships, bullying, cyber issues.

Educational Governance


Total numbers of mediations include:

  • School days: 78
  • Days attended by mediators: 45
  • Classrooms assisted: 45
  • Fights resolved: 7
  • 1 on 1 Support/Counselling: 11
  • Family mediations: 8


The Yuendumu Mediation Centre has reported that the service has built confidence in the pool of mediators working with young people.The flow on effect has resulted in a partnership development with WYDAC, in which mediation is offered on a weekly basis to address the harmful behaviour of youth.This WCE action strengthened community networks of family authority and responsibility and assisted with building harmonious inter-agency collaboration.

Yuendumu Community Graduation Celebration

The WCE Initiative participated in the 2015 Yuendumu Careers Expo and Graduation Celebration hosted by Yuendumu School on 19 November 2015.The WCE Initiative worked closely with Batchelor Institute (BI) to provide careers advice to students, who showed an interest in further studying. This event began with the Careers Expo at 1pm, followed by the Yuendumu Graduation Celebration held from 3pm to 8pm.

The events of the day engaged the entire community of approximately 500-600 members. A number of educational activities entertained children and youth, including a Careers Expo, and games and activities that involved visiting almost every organisation in Yuendumu. The event led into an evening barbeque with a live band as entertainment.During the graduation celebration, parents and families watched on with pride as their family members were awarded a VET certificate or recognised for their work in the community.

The 2015 event saw such a high level of engagement that the Yuendumu School proceeded to organise a second graduation celebration for the subsequent year, on 8th December 2016. A visiting representative from the Office of Pro-Vice Chancellor-Indigenous Leadership awarded certificates to CDU graduates and Simon Fisher for his honorary appointment of University Fellow.The occasion allowed WCE community-based staff to provide feedback to the Yuendumu community on WCE actions.It is events like these that inspire children, youth, parents & families to undertake further studies to higher education.

Yuendumu Community Graduation Celebration


2015 Yuendumu Graduation Celebration 2015 Yuendumu Graduation Celebration

The Yuendumu community held its first graduation celebration of over 70 students completing a VET certificate. This required all registered training organisations to collaborate on the event. The Yuendumu community held its first graduation celebration of over 70 students completing a VET certificate. This required all registered training organisations to collaborate on the event.

2016 Yuendumu Graduation Ceremony and career expo<br> 2016 Yuendumu Graduation Ceremony and career expo

30 January 2017

Whole of Community Engagement Initiative

Whole of Community Engagement Initiative

The Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative has been operating through the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership at Charles Darwin University for the past two and half years.

23 January 2017

Evaluating WCE

We have been working hard with our partners and stakeholders to get feedback and to document and share our key findings and achievements.

Charles Darwin UniversityAustralian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges & EducationBatchelor InstituteNAILSMANTG

© 2015 Charles Darwin University

Website created by Dash Media Darwin.