Education Minister’s visit to Stuart | SPEECH


Stuart Electorate

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (15:21): I rise with great pleasure to share with the house information about a trip that I took recently to some schools and station homesteads with the Minister for Education, the member for Morialta. It was terrific that he accepted my invitation to come and spend two days in Stuart. He flew from Adelaide to Whyalla and I picked him up at Whyalla Airport.

I took him to the Port Augusta Special School, where we were greeted by principal Sarah French and were able to see the facilities, meet the staff and meet the students in what is an absolutely wonderful learning institution in Port Augusta, greatly supported in many ways by the broader local community. From there, we went to Holowiliena Station, where we were greeted by Frances and Luke Frahn and their two wonderful children, Stella and Todd. Very importantly, they were able to show the Minister for Education what it is like for School of the Air children and mothers or governesses who teach their children in their schoolrooms.

It is very easy to go to see distance education at Marden or perhaps even to the School of the Air office in Port Augusta, but it was a great opportunity to see the other end, the household end, where the students actually do their learning in their classroom. At Holowiliena Station, Stella and Todd were learning in the same classroom that their mother had learnt in and the same classroom that their grandfather had learnt in. It was a wonderful experience.

From there, we went to the Hawker Area School and were greeted by its principal, Daren O’Neill, who was able to show us some of the wonderful features of his school, including the importance of an area school going from reception all the way through to year 12. We met many of the staff there and were very impressed with their enthusiasm and the breadth of different learning opportunities on offer.

From Hawker, we went and stayed the night at Marree and it was terrific to be there. I had only been at Marree a few days earlier, as it happens. We were able to meet with a group of young mothers, who have children of preschool age and in school, and to learn what they think the important priorities are for their children’s learning for the next five to 10 years. It was great to have that opportunity and I thank them for coming in, particularly Lisa Edwards and Jess Bell, who were very strong advocates not only for their families but for the entire district.

The next morning we went to the Marree Aboriginal School, where their acting deputy principal, Mr Sunil Kumar, met us. He and some of his staff showed us into their classrooms. It is an absolutely outstanding school. I will just say a little bit extra about that because the Marree Aboriginal School very recently had three year 12 graduates. That is very special, I have to say, for a very small, remote school 680 kilometres north of Adelaide. Savannah Willis, Jeconan Wingfield and Shaqkodan Warren graduated year 12, received their SACE certificates, and all of them are starting apprenticeships, two as boilermakers and one in carpentry and construction. It is a huge achievement.

It was a who’s who of the Marree community at a wonderful graduation dinner in Adelaide a few weeks ago to celebrate that tremendous outcome. A lot of family and friends were there. I must mention Mr Maurice Saah, the immediate past principal of the Marree Aboriginal School, a man with extraordinary vision, presence, care and energy, who has helped not only these three graduates but the entire school. The next morning, we were able to visit the Marree Aboriginal School and see what was going on there. They have terrific programs that start with child care, a creche program, and go all the way to year 12.

We then went to the Leigh Creek Area School and were met by principal Jan Love, who showed us around her school and all the wonderful things that are happening there. The school now really is the hub of the community of Marree. There are a lot of other positive things going on, but it was terrific to show the minister that.

We then went to Upalinna Station in the Flinders Ranges and were met by the Reynolds family: Mija and Matt Reynolds and their two children, Aurelia and James. Again, we got to show the minister a School of the Air classroom in action. I thank all those people for hosting us so well.