Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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HomeIssue 3Yipirinya School under statutory management

Yipirinya School under statutory management

Following an investigation under the Associations Act 2003, a Statutory Manager has been appointed to the Yipirinya School in Alice Springs, indicating the school is under financial stress. 
According to the school’s 2019 Annual Information Statement, it received more than $5.7m in government grants in 2019. 


The Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade appointed Margaret Fenbury to “support the administration of the school as well as the continued delivery of education programs,” according to a department spokesperson. 


The school, whose mission includes the “development of educational programs for Aboriginal children living in and around the town of Alice Springs and its town camps,” as well as “to maintain and foster two way bi-lingual and bi-cultural teaching and learning,” has operated since 1979.


The My School website shows the school has 164 pupils, 88% of whom come from a language background other than English.


There was a drop in attendance from 41% to 32% between the 2018 and 2019 school years, in the last reported period.


The chair of the Yipirinya School Council, Harold Furber, declined to comment for this report. 
More to come.


  1. At least someone with a school background has been appointed to assist.
    But Marg Fenbury ex Karma School is up for the challenge of her life.
    Moving from an NT Education Department school to an independent school that makes no bones about being a family school is challenge no 1.
    What do all the Yipirinya staff do, other than being part of the extended family?
    In some cases that won’t be clear but can their positions be cut in the face of dwindling school funds?
    Absolutely not.
    In an NT Government school they would be gone in the blink of an eye.
    So attempts will be made to lift attendance to get more funding to cover all the positions.
    If that fails, as is likely, there will be a stand off with a predictable outcome.
    The school will be bailed out to the tune of a million bucks or more and the NT Government will require them to be come under CATSI rather than the Associations Act.
    That will neatly shift the problem to the Federal Government and ORIC who will appoint an administrator who is an accountant with no background in schools.

  2. For clarity, with a 32% attendance rate, is the $5.7 million actually divided between 52.48, i.e. $108,612 per annum per pupil?

  3. @ Myles: So typical of how the government invests OUR money. Interestingly the 108 is not the real figure either when you take into account all the other freebies. Just for the sake of a political point. No wonder we are broke!
    Disappointing amongst many other thoughts.

  4. Harold Furber “declined to comment”. How dare he.
    It’s Harold and Dawn Ross who have made all the decisions over past years. Why won’t they front up?
    Why was the 2019 AGM cancelled? Why have so many principals been got rid of?
    Why aren’t these kids being given the best education that a large sum of money can buy? Answers please, Harold and Dawn.

  5. Mitch: There are two Dawn Ross, one married to David Ross and the other his sister. Michael Liddle’s partner.

  6. Seven assistant or new principals since October 2019.
    Harassment, bullying to teaching staff with no consequences. No duty of care nor support. Dodgy deals brushed under the carpet.
    It is the saddest school in Australia through no proper school governance and abhorrent leadership at all levels.
    This story should be exposed to the news Australia wide.
    If you asked staff to speak up Australia will cry for the beautiful kids, staff and families. People are scared if they go to the press.

  7. In my many experiences with the school, there is a very toxic atmosphere there.
    They are quite rude in their dealings. The last principal was only there for a short time, yet he was at his previous school for many years. I have a feeling he too, was shafted.
    Perhaps we need to look at the board and the admin staff.

  8. Harold and Dawn – it’s not supposed to be a fiefdom you know.
    Why have there been countless principals, deputies, senior staff come and go?
    Are they terrible at recruitment or terrible at staff management or both?
    Where is ORIC?
    Where is the accountability for spending taxpayers dollars? And most important, how can they get away with ruining the future for all these Aboriginal kids who need better than average education, not worse than average?
    Please keep asking questions, Alice Springs News.

  9. This has been a slow train wreck since Ken Langford-Smith was sacked as principal in early 2015.
    It’s amazing it has been held together this long. Is it a police job?

  10. @ Toby. The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) has no jurisdiction because Yipirinya is not incorporated under the Act that ORIC administers.
    They are the one of the very few Aboriginal organisations that do not come under ORIC scrutiny.
    By being incorporated under the Associations Act 2003 Yipirinya escape a lot of scrutiny.

  11. I was a supporter of the school with regular donations until Ken was sacked, and no explanations were given to us.

  12. Look at the big picture, people. Aboriginal kids are out of control all around Alice Springs and remote. School attendance is at all time lows, have a look at how many mums and sisters and aunties are walking around with kids in tow.
    Don’t know where the men are but I will give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.
    This would have to be a smoke screen from the DYJ and the Minister for Central Australia to throw the limelight in another direction because of the youth crime … and their struggle to constantly defy accountability.
    Wherever you look Aboriginal kids refuse to go to school, whether it be Yeperenye, Ntaria, Papunya, Ampilatawtja because of lazy, lazy parenting.
    Close all of them and put the $$ money into psychological trauma for the kids a long long way from town.

  13. Hate to break it to you Mick, we have not had a Minister for Central Australia for a while. All we have now is a minister for Central Australia, economic redevelopment, whatever that means. We do have a Minister for Northern Australia, and also a Minister for Children, who is the current CM.

  14. Okay Ray, thanks for the correction, but I’m sure you will figure out who I am speaking about as he is the only elected Labor candidate around the region.
    Your comment is totally irrelevant to the topic.

  15. @ Myles: you are pretty well spot on with the figures Myles, I’m told actual attendance is around 45 students. What is most interesting is that there are around 50 staff members employed, it’s nearly a one for one student/staff ratio.
    And what’s more interesting is that I’m told they have a bus driver employed there who doesn’t have a license.
    You have to wonder how actual tax payers money is being spent.

  16. Mick: Of course I know who you mean. I wasn’t having a go at you, I was simply stating how ironic it is that that portfolio no longer exists, yet there is one for Darwin, of such high importance that the CM holds it.
    The only representative of Labor here is who you are thinking of, but the total disregard he has shown for us can easily be dismissed by saying, “that’s not my job”.
    As he has stated in this paper, the only involvement he has had in town is to say that they are taking Anzac Oval, regardless of what the community thinks.
    As far as I am concerned any part of the Territory that is going through what we are, is the responsibility of the current government, as a whole.
    In light of the presumption that you and I both had, the fact that we do not have a minister for this region is absolutely relevant.

  17. How many directors are there? And how much money do they pay themselves for every meeting in sitting fees, no matter how short the meeting?
    As they say these days “you will be amazed”.

  18. My heart bleeds. I may become emotional about it when I hear that Yip school is in financial difficulties when it was for some 20 years a model of dedication, by staff and board members alike, based on the great vision of “the founding fathers” (and mothers), all of them now gone.
    For a two-way school to function soundly there is no need of big money or big buildings but genuine concern for the future of town camps kids.
    The school started going down when personal interests took over from the well-being of the students it was supposed to serve. From memory, this goes back to the late 1990s.
    By now, It may have gone too far and Yipirinya may become just another public school run by the NT Department of Education progressively losing its Aboriginal identity.


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