A total of 58 Aboriginal students have been re-engaged with schools in Adelaide during the first year of operation of the DECD-sponsored Walk Along program.
The program was launched in March 2016 to assist Aboriginal children and young people to re-engage with their schooling when they move from their remote communities to Adelaide.
Aboriginal families often travel with their children from remote areas to the city for a variety of reasons.
Once identified, the students’ home schools are contacted to obtain their current learning plans and their progress levels which are communicated to their new school in Adelaide, providing a continuity of learning.
Individual learning plans includes setting academic and social-emotional goals, putting strategies in place to achieve these goals and identifying the people responsible for implementing these strategies.
The Walk Along team have developed strong working relationships based on trust and cultural respect with enrolling schools, students, families and other agencies.
The team also assists with other critical components of assisting students back in to regular schooling, such as arranging reliable transport and accommodation when necessary, and working with a number of state agencies to obtain the best possible outcomes.
Kyron Thompson, 14 and Mitchell Hart, 15 now live together with Kyron’s mother Melissa who is their legal guardian after receiving support from the Walk Along team.
The teenagers catch two buses every day to get to their school, the Adelaide Secondary School of English and have re-discovered a passion for learning.
Both are aiming to become police officers when they finish their schooling.
The Walk Along Initiative (WAI) is funded from the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, Children and Schooling. This Initiative aims to close the gap in attendance and retention rates for indigenous children, increase literacy and numeracy levels and ensure access to pre-school opportunities.
The Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) Walk Along Initiative (WAI) provides support for Anangu children and young people who are visiting Adelaide on a regular basis with their families from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara and Maralinga Tjarutja Lands.
Anangu families travelling to Adelaide may experience difficulty in linking with schools and services in the area they are visiting. The initiative aims to provide equitable opportunities for Anangu children and young people.
Quotes attributable to April Lawrie, Director of Aboriginal Education
Since it’s commencement in March 2016, the initiative has supported 34 Anangu families and linked 58 Anangu students to 21 metropolitan schools. An additional 14 students have been identified as existing enrolments in metropolitan schools that the team are monitoring. The WAI team has provided advice and support to the enrolling schools.
Furthermore, the WAI Team is developing links with the students’ home schools on the APY Lands to ensure individual learning plans are transferred and maintained. Having consistency across schools means children can attend school while in Adelaide with little interruption to their ongoing learning.
The program has been instrumental in helping us to stay informed of a student’s whereabouts, reducing the number of recorded, unexplained absences.
This is a step in the right direction to supporting their children and young people in accessing and maintaining their education while families are away from home communities.