This week Dharriwaa Elders Group made a call to action re the Walgett high school that it had been working on most of February 2021.
Titled "Urgent action needed on systemic failure of leadership and outcomes at Walgett Community College high school" - it was respectfully sent to NSW Ministers for Education, Health, Mental Health, Communities, Attorney General, key Labor shadow ministers, and DEG supporters Barwon MP Roy Butler, David Shoebridge MLC and others in NSW Parliament.
The statement listed examples of alarming failures of the school already highlighted in the NSW Ombudsman OCHRE Review Report October 2019. It also gives examples of how in good faith Dharriwaa Elders Group has worked within the School Reference Group and with other Walgett ACCOs led by the Walgett AECG, but its valuable advice has been repeatedly ignored and unexplored.
"We and others in our community place the highest value on education and the opportunities and choices that it enables. We also care about the health and welfare of our young people. We cannot sit by and watch the education system fail another generation of our children and young people. The AECG has requested a Royal Commission into Education in Walgett in the past and the situation is now even more dire and urgent."
The statement calls for a radical overhaul of the Walgett High School, with the participation of the Department of Education, and also the departments of Health, Communities and Justice, and Disability agencies.
The statement proposed the first step in this process: "All those leaders with responsibilities for and interests in the future of our children and young people need to come together with Walgett Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations on the ground, their peaks and partners, to develop and implement a new Plan for Walgett High School and to rebuild trust and hope in the education system amongst a community who have been let down time and time again. This Plan will ensure a focus on the health and social determinants of health of children so they can be receptive to learning. It will also provide clear guidelines for implementation (of community expectations) to the Department and principals ."
We are now working to quickly produce a draft of this proposed Plan which will contain elements long discussed by the AECG, WAMS and DEG. We are urgently seeking someone with good policy skills who has knowledge of NSW Education processes and schools in NSW Aboriginal communities. We are fortunate to have a budget that allows us to respond in this way. If you are suitable to do this short piece of work for us please apply ASAP!
We look to NSW parliamentary leaders to co-ordinate a meeting of the responsible agencies with the Walgett ACCOs (Aboriginal community-controlled organisations), our partners and peak bodies, and the NSW Teachers Federation to finalise the new Plan and its resourcing, asking that they work with us to forge a new future. This time we bravely dare to insist that the process of co-designing the Plan for the school will be community-led.