The next generation of First Nations leaders

Developing strong and resilient kids who have a positive impact on their community and beyond is what the Waalitj Foundation’s successful Wiluna schools’ program is all about.

The Foundation’s First Nations staff, who are trusted members of the Midwest community, have been instrumental in achieving an increase in school attendance rates among children through the Remote Schools Attendance Strategy (RSAS).

RSAS is a community-focused strategy that employs local people to bring together families, schools, communities, and other services to design and deliver local solutions to improve school attendance and engagement.

The Waalitj Foundation delivers RSAS supported by the NIAA within the Wiluna Remote Community School.

This program supports communities to find what works for them to improve attendance and education outcomes. It ensures everyone has a say in how school attendance should be addressed, and it encourages a whole-of-community approach to implementing a local solution.

RSAS Wiluna coordinator Stacey Petterson said the program’s success in the Midwest has relied on staff establishing positive relationships with neighbouring communities, delivering after school activities, and providing one on one support for students in the classroom.

“Ensuring the kids get the best education possible is my motivation within this role, and I have always been passionate about helping children succeed,” she said.

“I want to support, encourage and empower children in the community to engage with their schoolwork, develop healthy habits and surround themselves with a supportive network.”

The Waalitj team also helps families deal with a range of challenging issues daily, including the remoteness of Wiluna and maintaining the student’s ongoing engagement in school.

Stacey said the constant support and reliability of mentors taking children to school and providing breakfast, mentoring support and health and sport activities empowered families to thrive.

“Through the program the kids are supported to grow, learn new things and achieve what they want to, not what anyone else thinks they should be achieving,” she said.

“My hope for the kids is to see them become CEO’s, lawyers, managers and anything else they dream to be.”

To learn more about the Remote Schools Attendance Strategy, click here.

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