OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (20)

Helping with personal hygiene and cleanliness was not aided by the fact that members of the Warburton Community, adults and children alike, were not overly endowed with clothing. Scarcity of clothing was not helped, for children at least, by the fact that if jumpers and outer garments were removed when it was hot, they were generally dropped on the ground and left behind. While others in time might pick up and utilise discarded garments, they tended to be left where they fell.

While clothing, in terms of warmth offered, was not an issue in the hot summer months with their generally warm nights, winter offered a different scenario. Very cool days and cold nights were added to by the cold wind that whipped into Warburton from the dry hinterland.

With the issue of need in mind, and taking into account the fact that little clothing was carried for purchase in the store, I wrote a couple of letters to newspapers, appealing for clothing donations. We asked that people consider donating clothes for both adults and children. The situation of need was carefully explained. Clothing donations were to be sent to us via the Thomas Nationwide Transport (TNT) depot in Kalgoorlie. TNT’s period contractor who serviced the Warburton run, Dennis Meaker, had generously volunteered to transport clothing to us freight free from Kalgoorlie. Depending on circumstances, Dennis made the Warburton run either each week or each fortnight.

We received substantial donations of clothing. As boxes of clothing arrived, we sorted them into four groups for temporary storage purposes. The divisions were womens, mens, girls and boys.

On Saturday mornings each fortnight or three weeks (depending on supply), we organised clothing into four areas in the three classrooms in the main school building. Girls and women’s clothes went into one area, with boys and men’s in the other classrooms. We organised entry and exit at each end of the passage. As people left with their choice of clothing, we asked for a donation of 20 cents for each item. This money was generally forthcoming but if payment was not possible, the clothing was freely given.

Money collected went into school funds and was used to purchase goods for student use. The amount of money allocated by the Education Department for school requisites was paltry (only a few hundred dollars for the school each year), so this money was a useful supplement.

The extra clothing that became available through this program, meant that we were able to upgrade our hygiene programs for students.

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