This is the transcript for video Dawul Remote Community School
Narrator Text

Recorded:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following video may contain images and voices of people who have passed away.

Dani:

Dawul School is in the middle of Doon Doon Station. We’re only a small community of about 70 people roughly. Our school at the moment has 20 kids enrolled at our school.

 

It’s in a beautiful part of the world. East Kimberley, yes, it’s a magical place really. It’s a really highly functioning community, and the school is the central soul of the community. The parents and the community members really value and own it, I guess.
 
Challenges we face are every day. The weather, a silly as it sounds, plays a huge part. It’s just practical. During the wet, people can get stuck, with the water coming up. Unfortunately death plays a huge part in our lives. I don’t think there’s a term we go through without a funeral, so that affects our school life and our school community, getting people involved.

Tuck:

Okay, the first thing I do is my liaison between the school and community. If there are no kids at school, I go down, find out why they’re not at school. This morning, I’ve got, again, see parents about - there’s a funeral on. It’s on a Friday. I have to ask the parents if they’re going and if they’re taking their kids. It’s just a thing for the school because sometimes - when people pass away, a lot of the thick times, they can be take their kids with them and, yes, we just got to find out for the school’s sake, see how many kids there because I know Dani’s going. I’m going. A couple of other staff members are going, and, yes, it’s just something I have to do.

Dani:

Our kids are faced with significant trauma regularly, and not just our kids; our staff are. Our kids have witnessed domestic violence. Pretty much every child would know someone who’s suicided. A lot of our kids would’ve seen an attempt to suicide. Our kids have all known grief. Once again, it’s not just our kids. It’s our staff, and it’s not just our local staff. It’s any of our staff who have lived here for a significant time. The grief and the mental toughness that the kids have got to face is a challenge, but the challenge is teaching our kids explicitly to be resilient.

Student:

Well, our school motto is: “Strong and deadly, we can do it.” The strong that means we could bounce back. When something bad happens, you can just bounce back up, like that. It’s just like resilience. Deadly is like—means we’re good and great, and we could do accomplish something.

Speaker:

What do we hope our kids get out of that in life for themselves?

Parent:

More education.

Speaker:

More education.

Parent:

Learning about what they want to be in life, do in life.

Dani:

In 2009, I got the parents together, and I asked them what they want for their kids. They said that all they wanted for their kids was to have a choice, so I said, “That sounds school.”

 

I showed them a graph of what our results were according to, say, our like schools, other schools that were like us. We were pretty good, and the parents were like, “Yes, we’ve got it. We’re doing well. Our kids can do anything.” But then I showed them the stats of the state average, and we were significantly lower than an average student at the time. I said to the parents, “If you want your children to have any choices, if you want them to go to university, then we, as a community, need to bring this up.”
 
What we did was we started thinking what made us good and what made us strong and made us who we are as a school community. By and large, we all talked about the fact that what made us strong was that we’re a family, that we worked together, and by working together and being a family—our family kept us strong. If that’s what kept us strong, why not make our school like the family?
 
So then we said, “To get there, what are we going to do?” Parents started saying things like, “We need to get our kids to bed on time. We need to get our kids up in the morning, get undressed, get them fed, have them clean, read to them at night.” The staff all heard what they needed to do. We need to teach them good programs— relevant, meaningful. We need to build a sense of belonging, and we needed to do it together.
 
The parents have been signing a document to say, “Yes, we agree with this. This is what we commit to this year.” And so did the staff, “We commit to this.”
 
I think Kids Matter has really given our staff a better understanding of what mental health is and how we can support children and families.
 
Tucker, our AIEO, goes out every day for daily visits just to check on people, check to see if everyone’s okay. He kind of acts a bit like my PR, too, I like to think. This was a decision made by the parents and the staff when we first made our school-community partnership. They believed that it was important that the school was seen out every day so we’re aware of what’s going on for the kids during the day.

Tucker:

I think it’s a good thing because I’m probably the icebreaker between the school and the community. It’s a good thing just to get out and about and see where the kids are, just have a general yarn with the parents.

Carrie:

We found a need for support for some families whose children aren’t here anymore. They’ve gone away to boarding school. We found that the community - to support their children, we decided to support the families of those children as well, so we established a family forum group. We have the families come in every term or twice a term and just discuss how they’re going, how they’re feeling about it, how their children are going, what they’re facing, what issues they might be facing, and what ways they might best be able to address those issues.

Speaker:

Homesickness - I think that’s the only big challenge, really, for us parents, and whether they’re making friends, and settled in socially, you know, emotionally.

Student:

When my parents come to school, they do meetings. I like that when they come because when they come, it feels like home.

Student:

Well, I feel a bit good seeing my family. There’s a lot of us kids, and then it makes me feel just great, just seeing more family around.

Dani:

It’s about developing relationships and making those relationships genuine, so walking into the community, going to see parents every day, having yarns with people not even about school, being about football, being about the weather, whatever, it’s about developing relationships with people so that they’re real, so that when we talk about school stuff, people can feel that they can talk about it, and when we’re trying to solve a problem or a challenge, then people feel more open to talk about it.

Child:

See you! See you!