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Higher education pathways explored

28 October 2016

GN_Whole Community Engagement Meeting in WEst Arnhem Angelo Angelo gives youth perspectives on their Education Film Project in Gunbalanya.

Key agencies in Gunbalanya and Maningrida have come together to discuss exploring higher education pathways for members of the community as part of Charles Darwin University’s Whole of Engagement (WCE) Initiative.

The (WCE) initiative is funded by the Commonwealth Government, through the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), and delivered by researchers employed in the Office of Pro-Vice Chancellor – Indigenous Leadership, Charles Darwin University.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Aboriginal Research Practitioners’ Network (ARPnet), ARPnet researchers have also been conducting research with families and Elders in these two communities to gather their perspectives and experiences of education.

In West Arnhem, WCE staff Dean Yibarbuk, Millie Olcay and Seraine Namundja have also been exploring higher education pathways with community members, including Key Leaders, Traditional Owners, service providers, youth and other agencies.

As part of their work, interagency workshops were recently held in Gunbalanya and Maningrida to share the research findings from both the WCE and ARPnet teams and to identify actions that can be implemented by agencies to strengthen higher education pathways.

Staff from eight key agencies in Gunbalanya, including the School, Child and Family Centre, JobFind, West Arnhem Regional Council, Catholic Care, Team Health, Forward Thinking Consultants and Prime Minister and Cabinet, came together to share ideas and identify strategies with the aim of strengthening education pathways for community members.

Discussions focused on building a culture of Bininj-Balanda ‘both ways’ mutual mentoring and partnership in the workplace, work experience programs, on-the-job training, school attendance, improving intercultural communication and awareness, and engagement with families. An additional Film Project to gather Youth Perspectives on their Education is also underway – a collaboration between WCE (CDU), Team Health and West Arnhem Regional Council’s  Youth Centre

Meanwhile, staff from five key agencies in Maningrida, including the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation, the School, Child and Family Centre, Catholic Care and Prime Minister and Cabinet also came together to discuss employment of local mentors, workplace skill set reviews and raising the awareness of higher education pathways in the school.

The group also discussed relevant and meaningful curriculum content, supporting the visions and education of young teens, cultural mentorship, increased Bininj employment, and the importance of Bininj ownership and governance of organisations.

Mentoring and Engagement Officer Dean Yibarbuk said it is important for each organisation to understand their role in supporting Bininj education and creating relevant opportunities for community members.

“This is the first time for this type of work, this type of research and this type of engagement in community. These workshops brought people together, connecting them, so that they could talk to each other about how best to support education and employment together,” he said.

“These workshops gave staff access to community voices about education and it raised awareness of the importance of engaging community about important issues, like education. It also helped connect organisations together to best support graduate pathways.”

Final WCE reports will be distributed to both communities and made publicly available in November.

WCE staff work across 6 remote Indigenous communities, including Maningrida and Gunbalanya, Galiwinku and Yirrkala (East Arnhem), Tennant Creek and Yuendumu (Central Desert).

For more information on the WCE research conducted in this region, please contact Community Engagement Leader, Millie Olcay, on 0475 808 988 or on

You can also come along and listen to the presentations from the WCE staff working across all 6 communities at the upcoming Indigenous Leaders Conference in Darwin, held on 10-11 November 2016.

More information about this can be found via the following link:

There is also a 2 day pre-conference Youth Summit where Indigenous youth from across all six remote communities will come together to discuss a range of topics, including youth leadership and engagement in education.

COM_Whole Community Engagement Meetings in West Arnhem Yuya Bol staff at a workshop in Maningrida.