New home-away-from-home to boost school completion

4 Jul 2024

The state’s first co-designed purpose-built boarding house for Indigenous students is under construction at Djarragun College (located in Gordonvale – Malanbarra Clan of the Yidinji Tribe) catering for students from places where high school options are inadequate.

The college is one of only three Indigenous-owned and operated independent schools in Queensland and provides parents and students with a unique culturally centred education option.

The design of the new facility that will provide a home-away-from-home for an additional 20 boys has been created in collaboration with Elders and parents from home communities, students, staff and key boarding education policies. It takes the boarding opportunity for boys to 75.

Executive Principal Dr Michael Barton said while the single most substantial action we can take as a society is to ensure all children are provided with a good education, it most often isn’t available to students from remote Indigenous communities.

“Many come with complex challenges that stifle resilience to live in a new setting a long way from family and culture,” said Dr Barton.

“This building moves away from shared-style boarding to greater privacy and more social zones and green space. The families and students will see elements of their Country in the space.”

Dr Barton says the College community is grateful to project partners including the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) which has invested more than $2 million into this first phase of the College’s boarding upgrade.

CEO of Cape York Partnership, Fiona Jose said that Year 12 completion is a critical step in closing the gap on many targets – not only education, but employment, income and health.
“This new living environment for students is definitely the way of the future and the level of cultural comfort our students need,” said Ms Jose.

The expansion is being constructed on vacant land owned by Djarragun – across from the girls’ boarding facility in what will create a boarding precinct focused on improving the safety and wellbeing of students.

Today, Djarragun College hosted project partners to celebrate the progress of the significant expansion. With the foundations already being poured, community enthusiasm is building as the open day inches closer.

Dr Barton’s words were echoed by ILSC Chief Operating Officer, Matthew Salmon, who hailed the project as a gamechanger for FNQ’s educational system.

“Education provides opportunity and being able to support more students thanks to the college expansion will open the door of opportunity to more students to gain access to high quality education,” said Mr Salmon.

“The ILSC strives to open the door of opportunity to the people it serves – Australia’s first peoples – and we do this by strategically partnering with project partners to achieve positive outcomes.”

“The Djarragun College expansion perfectly demonstrates our commitment to working together with community to deliver real change.”

The next phase of the college expansion includes the construction of a new administration building, hospitality trade training buildings, and a new shed in 2025.

L to R Matt Salmon, Taro Morrison, Fiona Jose and Michael Barton (c) Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation.

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