'We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love...and then we return home'.
Aboriginal education is core business in Independent Schools in the Northern Territory.
The Northern Territory has the highest percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students of any state or territory in Australia. There is significant cultural and linguistic diversity within NT Aboriginal communities. Schools strive to respond to the wishes and particular circumstances of their local communities, while providing the best possible education for individual students. There is also a proud tradition of providing boarding places for Aboriginal students, particularly those from remote areas.
Northern Territory Independent schools work within the framework of the NT Indigenous Education Strategy, which was developed in response to recommendations from the A Share in the Future Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory. This framework fits with the Australian Government’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy.
Aboriginal Independent Community Schools
There are six Aboriginal Independent Community Schools in the Northern Territory. These school are located in remote and very remote communities throughout the Northern Territory.
Each of these schools is autonomous and has a governing body, comprising of members of the community in which the school is located, that is responsible for staffing, curriculum, school buildings, staff housing and financial accountability. These schools comply with the regulatory obligations under the Northern Territory Education Act and the Australian Education Act, however, they are independent of government and belong to the community they serve. This enables the school to be responsive to local community requirements, circumstances and aspirations.
AISNT provides services to these schools in the form of consultancy and professional learning support.
Following are the Aboriginal Independent Community Schools located in the Northern Territory:
Gawa Christian School, Elcho Island
One of the most remote schools in Australia, located on the northern tip of Elcho Island, serving students from the homelands of Gawa and Ban’thula. Gawa Christian School is managed by NT Christian Schools.
Mapuru Yirralka School, Arnhem Land
Located in the very remote area of north-east Arnhem Land, this school has a strong tradition of cooperation and joint leadership between Balanda (non-indigenous) and Yolnu staff.
Nyangatjatjara College, Central Australia
An Anangu school in central Australia with three far-flung campuses serving the communities of Docker River, Imanpa and Mutitjulu. All students speak Pitjantjatjara. The college is managed by Nyangatjatjara Aboriginal Corporation. Originally a secondary education provider, the college took over responsibility for primary education in Docker River in 2015. There is a strong focus on Sustainability, most notably through a project at Docker River with Professor Paul Clarke and Pop-Up Foundation.
Tiwi College, Pickertaramoor, Melville Island
A boarding school located on country at Pickataramoor on Melville Island. All students speak Tiwi and live in Family Group Homes during the week, before returning to their own families at weekends. The college is managed by the Tiwi Education Board and is co-located with the famed Hayden Way Garden, an initiative of Matthew Hayden and Guy Reynolds. It has an increasingly impressive academic record.
Yipirinya School, Alice Springs
Located in Alice Springs, Yipirinya caters primarily for children from the Town Camps as well as outstations. It is governed by a School Council of Aboriginal leaders. It is the only Australian school teaching four different Aboriginal languages. Yipirinya uses the Direct Instruction pedagogy, and has a commitment to employing Aboriginal staff.
Yirara College, Alice Springs
Located on the southern outskirts of Alice Springs, Yirara is a boarding school for secondary students. Most students come from remote NT communities, although others are from South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. Yirara operates under the auspices of Finke River Mission, part of the Lutheran Church of Central Australia.