Yirara College near Alice Springs NT, has a goal of bridging the gap between school life and family and community life.With its students coming from across Australia, the boarding school for students 12 years and older from remote communities, aims to make the school as ‘user friendly’ as possible.
“Most of our students come from the Outback and all have different personalities and are from different areas and communities. We try and make the school as user friendly as we can, and offer a curriculum that is relevant to students’ long term goals,” school principal Roger Ashcroft says.
“We want our students to go into jobs or training when they finish at Yirara. We want to see them succeed in life and have all the opportunities that are open to them.”
Yirara operates under the auspices of Finke River Mission which is the mission arm of the Lutheran Church in Central Australia. Finke River Mission has a long and positive history with the Aboriginal people of Central Australia and has contributed to the success of the school and the confidence of the parents in choosing it as a safe Christian place for their children to go to school.
Located 7km south of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway, the school offers the same curriculum as other schools and attracts teachers from a variety of backgrounds who support the students socially and academically, and also to preserve their culture.
“In terms of training and employment, we look at what the students’ communities need. As most of the students return to their communities, we look at what they can take back and contribute to their communities,” Roger says.
“We have a number of students in paid traineeships, including retail and administration. We have one student in a traineeship with a bakery, as he is interested in becoming a baker when he leaves school. We’ll also be partnering with Qantas in the near future to offer work experience.”
Viv Prebble is one of the teachers at Yirara who brings with her a background from New Zealand in broadcasting. She has been guiding students through broadcast skills which encompasses vocal techniques operating a multi-audio desk, interviewing and producing radio shows for local Alice Springs community radio station 8CCC.
“We want students to express their creativity,” Viv says. “They have been undertaking training in how to panel a multi-audio desk, script writing, interviewing and programming music. We’ve had country music star Bill Chambers and local singer/songwriter Jacinta Price in for interviews. We are aiming to develop their inner confidence and self esteem, as well as developing skills to take back to their communities.”
As well as radio broadcasting training, Yirara has also offered skill development in TV broadcasting from interviewing and scripting through to reading from an autocue.
“We have produced our own TV program through Yirara TV that includes stories on our school and sporting activities and the weather. We have recently received an invitation to present a youth news television program for ICTV [Indigenous Community Television Limited].”
As well as broadcast training, there have been dance workshops and performances and even creating a form of the Indigenous flag.
“We want to show the value of connecting as one, that it doesn’t matter where you come from,” Viv says.
“And it’s about standing strong in culture and identity, and allowing the students to see for themselves how strong they can be as individuals.”
Literary and numeracy are the foundations of the curriculum at Yirara, but through offering a variety of activities and skills’ development opportunities relevant to students, confidence is built.
“We want to set the bar raised. We don’t just want our students to scrape through, but to believe in themselves,” school principal Roger Ashcroft says.
For more information on Yirara click HERE.