OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST Warburton Ranges 1974 – 75 (22)

Truancy and non-attendance at school was a key issue. This notwithstanding the support programs in place, which included meals in the community children’s dining room. The issue of school attendance was one particularly challenging during the cold winter months. With overnight temperatures often around the freezing point mark and not getting above the high teens or very low 20s during the day, one could understand the reluctance of children to move from camp areas to the settlement for the start of the school day. Winter winds were often bitterly cold, sweeping across the flats toward the camps and settlement.

Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (22)

We often experienced the phenomena of black frost, a sheen of dark hue colour on the land in the early morning. There was no moisture but the ground was bitterly cold. The mirage lifted off after the run rose in the sky, but its disappearance was often slow.

Although we had a clothing program which supported the children, footwear was not a part of what was offered. Children and adults at Warburton were, and the majority, always barefooted.

During winter months, children and adults hardened feet would often crack open because of the cold. Medication to heal cracked feet took a long time to work. I absolutely admired the way people, notwitstanding fractured skin, managed to move around quite adroitly and nimbly. That must have taken courage and fortitude.

One of our Aboriginal support staff members Bernard Near Berry (who later became a senior called at Warburton) worked hard to convince students about the value of school and education.

On occasion, I would go out in our Mini Moke into some of the camping areas, to talk with students and parents about school attendance. This contact helped but the issue of truancy was always one offering challenge. I could relate a number of incidents of somewhat seven humorous nature that occurred during times spent encouraging students toward school attendance; however, this chapter is not the appropriate forum for recounting these incidents.

We worked hard to make the school relevant to meeting the educational and developmental needs of children. Basic learning needs (literacy and numeracy) were the focus of learning. “Learning by doing” and “hands on” experiences were developed in order to help make learning live. Some of these strategies are outlined in the following segment.

In the overall context , I felt that we did a very good job in terms of developing the programs we offered our student cohort, so they met curriculum requirements and the needs of students.

POINTS TO PONDER

The Balinese expats had plenty of time in past months to plan and return to Australia. The dilemma they confront could have been avoided had they heeded the earlier warnings about the inroads and impacts of this virus, and come back while the virus was still in its spreading stages.

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I will vote in the upcoming local government elections for the mayoral candidate and aldermanic hopefuls in my ward who commit to maintaining and revitalising our older suburbs. This Council has been all about the CBD, by and large neglecting our suburbs for the past four years.

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The security staff who work to provide safety to the public by guarding against aberrant and anti-social behaviour, deserve commendation. They work with limited powers. Those at Casuarina, Karama and Leanyer shopping centres do a great job and show empathy in their dealings with people. Thank you.

The Afghan interpreters who served Australian troops deployed to Afghanistan so loyally, so long and in life threatening situations MUST be uplifted and relocated with their families in Australia. The tardiness and pussy footing going on around this issue must cease. The lives of these people, who were faithful Australian servants, is in the hands of our Federal Government.

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.

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.

COVID AWARENESS EDUCATION SHOULD BE CONSTANT

People in the NT (the majority at least) act as if Covid is history. Howard Springs quarantining efficiency has made us complacent. Tourists are pouring up here like never before and the mixing and mingling defies all social distancing rules. Maybe 5% observe physical distancing and hand hygiene wiith less than that using the NT QR code.

They are now doing sewage testing. For a good while, electronic number plate recognition on border entry points was the only survelliance of traffic. More recently, borders are again being governed by human presence.

With the Northern Territory recently being confronted with a outbreak which manifested self at The Granites Mine, there was a temporary change in attitude. The five day partial lockdown woke some people up, but the awakening seems to have been temporary. I am not holding my breath about any permanent change, but hope to be proved wrong. While the QR codes are now everywhere and their use mandatory, I suspect that things are slackening by the day. We forget too quickly.

THE LAST DAY

CEO’s, Directors and top level leaders and managers in private and public organisations faithfully tow the party line. Many of them are faithful adherents to the party line for decades and decades. They discourage dissent from persons lower down the organisation by putting clamps on their ability to speak up on issues.

Come the day of their retirement and many speak up, often critical of the directions being followed by their organisations over years of operation.

One can but wonder!

And also wonder why those who declare that if they reach the top they will change things but when they get there, work to ensure the organisation becomes more impervious and harder to penetrate than before.

Maybe that has to do with lack of confidence and insecurity.

Countering Covid

Countering Covid

Covid 19 and it’s variants are making a joke of the Australian Government. The virus is running around us all. The only thing predictable is that the virus will continue to wreak havoc.

My thoughts on strangling the virus.

Close airports to all passenger traffic.

All passenger flights both international and domestic travellers suspended.

All planes carrying freight and goods to be deep cleaned at the end of each trip.

All trucks carrying foodstuffs and other essentials to be deep cleaned at the end of each trip.

All airline crews and truck drivers to be Covid tested every 24 hours. All to be vaccinated.

No inanimate goods to be transported across state or territory boundaries until the end of 2021.

No cruise liners to offer tours until at least July 2023.

No one to travel across state and territory borders for family, work or domestic purposes.

No Australian inbound or outbound traffic allowed. No border force permits allowing travel to be issued.

All repatriation flights to be suspended for the next three months.

Hotel quarantine to cease in future with quarantine confined to appropriately constructed facilities. These must be at reasonable distance from capital cities.

All people working in ages care and all delivering services of goods to be vaccinated.

Vaccination to be compulsory for all people aged 16 years and over unless excused by a medical certificate issued by a qualified medical practitioner.

All children aged 8 years and over to be vaccinated. This could be a program rolled out through schools.

The Last Day

THE LAST DAY

CEO’s, Directors and top level leaders and managers in private and public organisations faithfully tow the party line. Many of them are faithful adherents to the party line for decades and decades. They discourage dissent from persons lower down the organisation by putting clamps on their ability to speak up on issues.

Come the day of their retirement and many speak up, often critical of the directions being followed by their organisations over years of operation.

One can but wonder!

OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (19)

While educators, we were very concerned about the general health and welfare of the children at Warburton. To that end, we engaged with the children in a number of ways to try and enhance issues of general well-being. From the beginning of the 1974 school year, we decided to encourage children, as they came from their camps each morning to shower in the community ablutions blocks. In 1974, the galvanised female and male blocks were separated by partitioning and were quite private. The showers, a community facility, were rarely used, largely because the only showering option was cold water.

The ablutions block had donkey boilers attached but these had to be serviced.

Donkey boilers were 44 gallon (120 litre) drums hooked up with water inlets and outlets as befitting traditional wood burning bath heaters. In order to facilitate the showering program, I used to go down each morning and light fires under the boilers. Wood was supplied by the community and I did the rest.

We supervised the showering programs, supplying detergent for each child. Towels were communal and supplied clean each morning by the Health Department staff. After use, they were collected, washed, dried and readied for use the next day.

This service was provided for most of the 1974 school year from Monday’s to Friday’s.

We oversaw some other aspects of health care for children. From time to time we organised haircuts for students in order to assist with health care. We also organised for children suffering from weeping ears and scabies to go to the health clinic for treatment. Weeping ears were often accentuated and made worse because flies were attracted by the condition. Dead flies were often removed from children’s ears at the health centre. On one occasion, nine flies were removed from one ear and eleven from the other ear of an afflicted child.

These conditions were worse after weekends and holidays because during the school week, staff kept a regular and supportive check on students.

The Education Department supplied vitamin and mineral enriched biscuits for students. They were a small supplement we added to their diet, distributing them at school. Cartons of canned Carnation milk were sent, to be made up and distributed at school.

A midday meal and afternoon tea were supplied to children by the community this being part of the government funded support program – as had been the case when we first went to Warburton in 1970.

Afternoon tea was a sandwich and a piece of fruit. On many occasions, this food was passed over by children to others within the community who are not provided for by the program.

OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (19)

While educators, we were very concerned about the general health and welfare of the children at Warburton. To that end, we engaged with the children in a number of ways to try and enhance issues of general well-being. From the beginning of the 1974 school year, we decided to encourage children, as they came from their camps each morning to shower in the community ablutions blocks. In 1974, the galvanised female and male blocks were separated by partitioning and were quite private. The showers, a community facility, were rarely used, largely because the only showering option was cold water.

The ablutions block had donkey boilers attached but these had to be serviced.

Donkey boilers were 44 gallon (120 litre) drums hooked up with water inlets and outlets as befitting traditional wood burning bath heaters. In order to facilitate the showering program, I used to go down each morning and light fires under the boilers. Wood was supplied by the community and I did the rest.

We supervised the showering programs, supplying detergent for each child. Towels were communal and supplied clean each morning by the Health Department staff. After use, they were collected, washed, dried and readied for use the next day.

This service was provided for most of the 1974 school year from Monday’s to Friday’s.

We oversaw some other aspects of health care for children. From time to time we organised haircuts for students in order to assist with health care. We also organised for children suffering from weeping ears and scabies to go to the health clinic for treatment. Weeping ears were often accentuated and made worse because flies were attracted by the condition. Dead flies were often removed from children’s ears at the health centre. On one occasion, nine flies were removed from one ear and eleven from the other ear of an afflicted child.

These conditions were worse after weekends and holidays because during the school week, staff kept a regular and supportive check on students.

The Education Department supplied vitamin and mineral enriched biscuits for students. They were a small supplement we added to their diet, distributing them at school. Cartons of canned Carnation milk were sent, to be made up and distributed at school.

A midday meal and afternoon tea were supplied to children by the community this being part of the government funded support program – as had been the case when we first went to Warburton in 1970.

Afternoon tea was a sandwich and a piece of fruit. On many occasions, this food was passed over by children to others within the community who are not provided for by the program.