Anindilyakwa Boarding College Engagement

Case Study


Warnindilyakwa Nation

What was the issue?

The proposed College has been devised in response to concerns about the poor educational outcomes being achieved by children on Groote Eylandt. Attendance is low and most children leave school without receiving the educational qualifications necessary to advance in life.

The Anindilyakwa Land Council and community agreed that the best way to address the situation was to develop an independent boarding school, where primary school children could remain on Country and near family but away from the daily stress of home. The proposal would allow local language and culture to be taught alongside the Australian Curriculum, and the school would be governed by a Board of local Directors.

What did we do?

An education reference group was established, and TFA worked with both the ALC leadership and the Anindilyakwa Education Board to develop a suite of community engagement and decision-making processes, including:

Precedent Field Trip

The reference group participated in a field trip to Tiwi College where they met with staff, students and administration. Time was spent discussing the layout of the school, how it has grown, and the lessons learnt from the Tiwi experience.

Site Investigations and Walking Country Field Trips

We worked with the Land Council anthropology team to develop a series of immersive walking trips with the objective of determining a site for the college. Several of the potential areas were accessible only by helicopter or 4WD. Our job was to provide the Traditional Owners with the technical information that they required in order to make a decision about the site. Maps, information sheets and photographs were used to assist Traditional Owners with their decision.

Community Information Days

A series of open information days were held allowing the community to hear from the education reference group and their invited specialists. Feedback was sought on elements ranging from pedagogy to programming.

Community Survey

It was decided at one of these information days that a wide-ranging survey should be undertaken, with detailed questions answered by a broader cross section of the Groote community. These surveys were conducted by local community members in Language, using software survey developed by TFA. We collated the results and reported back to the community using face-to-face presentations and online information, including social media.

Strategic Briefing Workshops

A number of staged briefing workshops were held to co-develop the key principles of the college, as well as seek inputs on layouts for the residential and learning environments. The outputs of these briefings were collated into a Project Definition Plan which was then endorsed by the Education Board and ALC and used to inform future design stages of the project.

What was our impact?

TF.A have progressed the project to the design phase, the results of which can be seen here: