Yiyili Aboriginal Community School
Influenced by the Noonkanbah and Strelley experience, the school was established when a group of mainly Gooniyandi people shifted from the station camp at Louisa Downs Homestead to set up a new camp approximately 7 kilometres to the east. Establishing their own school was seen as a better alternative to sending their children to the hostel at Halls Creek where parents felt they would lose control of their children. Since that time the school has expanded considerably to include six out-station communities who bus their students into Yiyili.
Yiyili Community is an excision on Louisa Downs station situated 170 kms south east of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia.
Louisa Downs is owned and operated by Yiyili Community members. The community is 5 kms off the main highway and the Station is 11 kms off the main road. It is easily accessible during the dry season. During the wet season a 4WD is often required to negotiate the track into the community.
Halls Creek is 120 kms east of Yiyili and is the administrative centre of the region. There are several small supermarkets, butcher, bakery, two fuel outlets, post office, hotel and public swimming pool. Kununurra has the closest Airport and is approximately 500 kms north of Yiyili.
The winter months are cool; the temperature can range from 4-10 degrees in the mornings and evenings and between 16-24 degrees during the day. The weather becomes very hot in late September until it begins to rain. The range during this time is from 36-47 degrees. The wet season varies from year to year.
Yiyili has six outstations, Ganinya, Goolgaradah, Kurinyjarn, Moongardie, Pullout Springs and Rocky Springs. All outstations have permanent residents, houses, water and electricity.
Approximately 250 people are living in and around Yiyili.
The language spoken by all the children and a large majority of the adults is Kriol. Gooniyandi is the traditional language, however, there are only a few fluent speakers in the community and they are elderly people. English is spoken in the school.
Yiyili was established in 1981. People had left the station earlier when equal pay issues faced non-Aboriginal station owners and Aborigines were told to leave cattle stations. When people returned, they lived in shelters on the edge of the Margaret River. They also did mustering and fencing on Louisa Downs in return for a space on their traditional land.
The school and the community were established simultaneously and a mobile Kindy teacher was employed to conduct classes in a bough shed. In 1986 Yiyili was granted an excision allowing permanent housing and a school building to be erected.
A teacher house was built in 1986 and then another in 1988. During 1989 Louisa Downs Station was handed back to the Cox family. It was purchased by ATSIC and leased to the Community for 99 years. The Station employs people from Yiyili and they are mainly members of the Cox family.
During 1990 a building that houses the Clinic and the Store was built. A Community Office building was erected in 1996. The Store is owned by the people of Yiyili. A Doctor visits the Community fortnightly and every other fortnight a Community Health Worker visits the Community. In case of medical emergency, an ambulance is sent from Halls Creek (120 kms away) and a Community vehicle is used to transport the patient until they meet the ambulance. There is an unsealed airstrip on Louisa Downs Station if the Flying Doctor needs to be called.
The school is governed by a School Board. It is made up of elected Community members and the Principal. Decisions concerning all operations in the school are decided by the School Board. The School employs seven non-Aboriginal staff and thirteen Aboriginal staff. These include Aboriginal Education Workers, cooks, cleaners and maintenance/gardeners. The non-Aboriginal staff include the Principal, five classroom teachers and a Support Teacher.
Yiyili School encourages an educational relationship among students, staff and parents where communication is open, friendly and invites involvement. Both Community members and teaching staff promote an atmosphere of reasonableness and understanding where our young people know they are cherished in an environment that supports both the wealth of their traditions and acknowledges equality for all through improved educational outcomes.
Yiyili Aboriginal Community School is a well established and resourced remote school.
The school has five well equipped classrooms, a modern computer centre, Life-skills room/library, audio-visual room, kitchen, undercover sporting complex, two community gardens that supply fresh produce for the school lunch program, undercover playground and a modern community art gallery in the school grounds.
There are 66 children on the roll in 2006; these numbers include Pre-School and Secondary enrolments. The School received Secondary Registration in September 1994.
- 5 Full Time Teachers
- 13 Aboriginal staff
Working in remote independent Aboriginal Community schools requires staff to be self-reliant and hard working. Each position includes training of Aboriginal people and a certain number of administrative duties as the workload associated with operating an independent school is considerable.
It is the responsibility of teachers to maintain their own classrooms. All staff accommodation is fully equipped with telephones, air conditioning, furniture, cutlery, crockery, cooking utensils, television and dvd, cd player, microwave etc. Staff are expected to supply their own bed linen, blankets and towels.
Yiyili Community and School have a strong commitment to the education of their children. Alcohol is prohibited within Yiyili Community. This is a Community decision and is strictly enforced. The Community Council is made up of Community people and they make decisions after much consultation and negotiations with everyone. Yiyili Community is an incorporated body.