This is a reasonable appraisal of remote Aboriginal secondary schooling …

Comment on Indigenous education review: no more ‘biliteracy’; boarding for secondary students by Ralph Folds.

This is a reasonable appraisal of remote Aboriginal secondary schooling but it lacks an analysis of the alternatives it advocates, particularly boarding schools. In NT boarding schools, declining and highly erratic attendance, disputes between students and financial troubles have all been abundant over the past few years but the reviewer believes that this approach will work with ‘community support’.
There needs to be a lot more discussion around the relationship between communities and boarding schools.
In 2010, I was employed as a consultant to run community workshops in the remote Pilbara WA to find out how parents and community members thought that the (failing) boarding school model could operate better.
Some of the results were surprising.
These meetings concluded that the parents did want their older kids to attend boarding schools, in fact, they strongly supported the idea.
They said the problem was keeping their kids at the school and they were clear that the kids had claims on them that created attendance difficulties.
For example, if they visited the boarding school and students wanted to return home with them they could not refuse, even if the students had been perfectly content at the school before their visit
On their part, the only community events parents wanted the kids back home for were funerals of close relatives – nothing else.
The final conclusion of these workshops was that parents wanted boarding schools situated as far away as possible from the community, they specifically said that they did not want the community to be easily accessible to the school.
They also said that they wanted as little direct contact with the school as possible during term time.
Contrary to ideas around close school- community connections, engagement and accessibility, the Pilbara parents supported a model of a distant, hard to access boarding school that operated without their involvement during term time.

Recent Comments by Ralph Folds

Back to the future with Warren Snowdon
@ Frank Baarda: The helium is a byproduct of Central Petroleum’s (ASX CTP) Mt Kitty petroleum system to the far west of Alice Springs near the Kintore community.
The Suprise 1 well at Mt Kitty pumped oil for more than a year that was transported in tankers. Little has been reported by the company on the commercial possibilities of the helium.

End of search for Monika Billen
My drone flying friends say that not finding Monika is a disgrace.
Forget the old tech ground searches.
Fly the latest high tech drones equipped with high-resolution cameras or video and analyse the results.
She would have been found on day two after being reported missing.
After an initial cost of perhaps $100,000 the drone system would pay for itself within a year and the tourist industry would be better off.

The financial crisis in the Northern Territory
James, I suspect that remote community infrastructure does add to the NT’s revenue stream, as it always has. Case in point (admittedly dated):
Federal grant of $500,000 for remote preschool.
NT admin tax $250,000.
Old asbestos clad science block sent to the community (instead of dumping it}.
Over the next three months, Alice Springs tradies renovate the building.
There is no money left for painting so that becomes a school expense.
Darwin designed building has no security so is broken into and trashed, then closed for six months as the school tries to get it repaired.
So the NT Government gets a windfall profit, Alice Springs businesses do well and the community gets a high maintenance asbestos building.

At last, public will get a say on Anzac Oval: Town Council
Gunner has made the right call on the location of the proposed gallery and offered substantial funding.
No other sensible and economically viable location has been proposed.
The gallery will probably operate at a loss as does the Desert Park.
To be sustainable the loss must be minimised and it must add value to our tourist businesses.
South of the Gap / at the Desert Part are not suitable locations.
The Greens are engaged in misguided economically damaging democracy.
They are doing the same by using their position on the Water Board to slow down mining development at Mt Pearce.
This action threatens the offer of generous funding.

The millions and the misery
Eugene’s Mate: “Unreasonably negative and incorrigibly antagonistic attitude towards Congress pathological denial of Congress’s achievements? Very unfairly, maligning Congress.”
Any organisation that gets more than $40m a year of taxpayer money, has $20m unspent and has a stake in CentreCorp with assets of more than $50m absolutely needs to be held accountable.
It worries me that you fall back on excuses such as saying that poverty is the main driver of renal disease (and of course Congress can’t change that).
How about, a sedentary lifestyle, living in squalor, poor diet, alcohol and smoking, all of which Congress should be able to do something about.
But they haven’t despite all the millions.
A new approach is needed.
Take diabetes:
Although there are other factors, diabetes is a major cause of end stage renal disease. Many of us have watched the progression from diabetes to end stage over the years.
I’ve personally seen it a dozen times or more.
Uncontrolled diabetes is rampant in our community and the deaths are mounting.
Congress has largely failed to stem the tide so we need to try something else.
That is a medical approach.
Instead of expensively trying to change behaviour and failing we need new drugs and medical devices.
That means more money for research and probably less for Congress.
Of course that is confronting and will get the reaction we see from you.
But Aboriginal health is bigger than Congress and is the priority.
A medical approach has the potential to save many hundreds of millions of dollars and improve Aboriginal lives on a large scale.
That claim cannot be made about Congress.

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