Girls Matter: Wunan helps disengaged young Aboriginal Women

5 June 2012

“Giving severely disadvantaged young Aboriginal women the knowledge, confidence, imagination and skills to develop better lives for themselves”, Joodoogeb-be-gerring Werlemen helps young Aboriginal women who’ve dropped out of school to re-engage in learning and education and gain the qualifications vital for employment.

A community partnership named by the Traditional Owners – the Miriuwung Gajerrong people Joodoogeb-be-gerring Werlemen which means “setting girls on a straight path”, the program helps one of the most disadvantaged groups in Kununurra – young aboriginal women aged 12-18yrs with very low literacy and numeracy skills, limited finances and extremely tough and unstable home lives.

This is a unique program, a local solution to a local problem, fills a void in the current services and educational support programs available in the area.  Without the program, these young women have little hope of gaining meaningful employment and escaping the welfare dependency that entraps around 80% of the Aboriginal population in Kununurra.

Following a successful 2011 where 11 girls returned to mainstream schooling, 2012 has opened its doors to 16 girls, 9 of whom attend regularly.  2012 has also accepted 12 year old girls, two of whom are settling in well and loving it.

Werlemen’s focus in 2012 is to ensure all girls aged 15yrs and above complete a Cert 2 in adult education and undertake 2 days a week work experience.  Jenny Lipscombe, Werlemen Teacher, said “We aim to have girls job ready when they leave the program as for many of the girls, returning to mainstream school is not really an option”.  “We are so proud of them they are all doing really well”.

The program has been operating for 3 years thanks to support from Kimberley District High School and Miriuwung Gajerrong Ord Enhancement Scheme Board who have funded the program costs. The end of 2012 however will see this funding cease and the partners are looking hard to access sustainable funding.  CEO of Wunan Nick Thomas said “the loss of this program will be devastating as no other program exists that meets the needs of girls that have disengaged from school”.

We, and the girls of the Werlemen program current and future, would genuinely appreciate your help.

Topic: Education