OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (21)

Additional clothing stocks available meant that we were able to upgrade our care program for students. The showering program outlined earlier was limited by the fact that children had to put dirty clothes back on after showering. In that context, children’s were always in clothes needing a wash.

With second hand clothing now available, we were able to modify the program. Children showered each morning and put their used clothes back on. When they arrived at school, they changed from these clothes to a second set of clean clothes which were in their desks. This was done with the appropriate circumspection. Having changed, the children were then organised to wash their dirty clothes with soap or detergent, before rinsing them out. Clothes were then placed in appropriate drying places within the environment of the school yard.

No matter what the season, Warburton’s moisture free atmosphere meant that the clothes quickly dried. Children would then collect and fold clothes, leaving them in their desks for changing the next morning. In terms of weekend’s, Friday’s washed clothes were there for Monday morning.

There were some disruptions to this program, these occasioned by circumstances but it was generally maintained. I like to think it made a difference to the wellbeing of our students. Importantly, it showed them and their families that we cared.

We were able to support students in other ways that promoted as sense of self worth and personal pride. Senior girls were offered personal grooming opportunities through hair care. They would washing their own heads or those of peers, then taking pride in combing and other aspects of hair care. The basic equipment we had for these programs meant that students has to make do in rudimentary circumstances. There were far more plusses than minuses for these extension opportunities offered, particularly to our older children.

While these activities were supplementary to core education, they needed to be met in order to provide children with the feeling of wellbeing that is so important if learning is to be meaningful. We were keen to do the best we could, as a school staff, by the students entrusted to us for educational care and development.

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