Lockhart River, Qld

Education Learning Circles strengthen the Lockhart River community

Lockhart River Education Learning Circles were delivered in 2013/14 to build collaborative leadership for strategic long-term thinking and to address short-term immediate issues in the local community.

Lockhart River is a coastal Aboriginal community situated on the eastern coast of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, 800 kilometres north by road from Cairns. The community is a mix of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and about 30 contract workers including teachers, nurses, police, and council administration.

Groups come together to address community issues

Supported by a grant for $9,930 via FRRR’s Rural Education Australia Program (REAPing Rewards), three Education Learning Circles were successfully delivered with 81 people participating, addressing five major topics:

1.       Early Years Learning and Parenting
2.       School attendance / Truancy
3.       Secondary Schooling
4.       Improve Learning and Education Outcomes
5.       Staff Cultural Awareness

The sessions were led by local groups and state government departments, with strong partnerships in and out of the community being formed. This engagement will provide ongoing support for the Lockhart River community to meet their educational goals.

Continuing the improvement journey

The project continues to evaluate and monitor the effects of the forums, and the early results are very promising:

  • 7% improvement in school attendance to 75% in term 2.
  • Overall retention 87.5% at boarding schools.
  • Puuya Foundation has employed three Early Years staff in Lockhart River.
  • Secured funding to build the Kuunchi Kakana (Families Together ) Centre.
  • Increase in local community leadership.
  • Continue to build partnerships and support for the Education Learning Circles and community events.

Participants travelled from across Australia to participate, from Weipa, Napranum, Hopevale, Cairns, Townsville, Yeppoon, Brisbane, Toowoomba and Melbourne. The people who found travel too expensive given the isolated location of Lockhart River have been kept informed via online communication and phone calls.

The community now has the support and momentum to build on the success of this project and deliver more educational benefits to the Lockhart River community.