LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – The Executive Director of the Lutheran Schools Association has referred to me a series of statements and questions that [Alice Springs News Online editor] Erwin Chlanda sent to him in an email.
I have reviewed and considered this communication as well as Mr Chlanda’s recent published stories relating to Yirara.
Like any school, Yirara College will not disclose or comment publicly on the details of incidents, complaints, investigations or personnel matters.
However, a few points do need to be made. We understand and accept unreservedly that there is and always will be different perspectives among some staff and indeed the community on some matters and the way that they are managed.
Neither the staff nor the Committee of Management shy from the challenges that confront a unique and important education environment such as Yirara.
Working at the College is both rewarding and challenging. The task is not for everyone. Indeed, some staff leave feeling extremely frustrated and disappointed. This is not a new development.
Yirara operates within the national curriculum framework and is funded predominantly by the Federal and Territory governments. All of the government funding that the College receives complies with the relevant Territory or Federal program and all is invested in our students.
Unfortunately due to a myriad of complexities we are not able to obtain funding for all students enrolled, they attend anyway. It is specious and mischievous to criticise our NAPLAN results or our funding levels when compared to other schools that operate in a more typical educational setting.
What we do share with all schools is dedication to connect students in a practical and useful way with the world in which they will live. Yirara is very important in the lives of many Indigenous students.
Our students are engaged with programs such as music, media and communication, hairdressing, cooking and baking, pottery, woodwork, crafts, sport, helping with school maintenance and catering as well as VET training, school based apprenticeships and work experience with Alice Springs organisations such as the hospital, Bunnings, McDonalds and Agrifoods plus many other life skill activities.
Many Yirara students go on to contribute positively in their local and the wider communities. Recent past students work on cattle stations, as trainee butchers, sportspeople, musicians, baggage handlers, translators, in community services, hospitality, tourism, as well as contributing to community and family as parents and role models. The Committee of Management, which is responsible for the College, comprises volunteers from the community who are committed to helping improve the lives of Indigenous youth.
Our backgrounds include skills and experience with teaching and living in remote communities, culture, commerce, education and pastoral support as well as the finance, governance and risk expertise required for a school such as Yirara.
Yirara College staff are appropriately qualified, valued and supported. They, in turn, are genuinely committed and work very hard. Our staff have a wealth of applicable experience including living, teaching and / or working in bush communities.
Among them are six Indigenous staff. We are thankful for the commitment of all staff and all volunteers that contribute to Yirara and to the families and students which we serve.
Yirara College welcomes constructive engagement with the media and the community. We accept reasoned criticism and suggestions via appropriate channels including to the College Executive, the Indigenous Advisory Council or the Committee of Management / Finke River Mission Board.
We believe strongly that a boarding experience is the most effective environment for learning and growth for many Indigenous students. We assure our families and the community that we will continue to strive diligently to provide a safe and caring learning environment.
Chairman, Committee of Management
LETTER TO THE EDITOR