Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
The township of Leonora is located 230 km north of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and, like many predominantly Indigenous communities, there is an issue with maintaining school attendance in young children. Currently, there is an imbalance in investment in Indigenous Education Support Programs, with the investment in boys outweighing the investment in girls by a significant number. Increasing school attendance is crucial for young Indigenous women to access greater opportunities at school and beyond.
Shooting Stars (SS) is an initiative by Glass Jar Australia and Netball WA that is designed to increase school attendance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls living in WA’s remote towns and communities. Through the SS initiative, activities to encourage exercise, positive health and wellbeing, leadership and cultural connection are nourished.
Using a $10,000 Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) grant through the Small and Vital stream, two Shooting Stars Cultural Reward Camps were able to be funded. Twenty-five girls aged between 10-16 were invited to participate in two activity-based camps on Kija / Jaru Country. In order to participate the girls were required to demonstrate an 80% or above school attendance rate or show an improvement in attendance by 20% or more from the previous term. These requirements not only increase participation at school but also help the girls to feel they have worked hard for the achievement.
The grant, which was generously funded by the Karpikarnpi Community Fund, allowed camping equipment and food, recording equipment for the yarning circle and the transport of two Shooting Star Program facilitators: the Sparks Coordinator and Pathways Coordinator.
During the two camping days seven activities took place which included traditional jewellery making, damper made three ways, a yarning circle for the girls to discuss successes and challenges over the term, a basket weaving session, an art mural class, a healthy eating and nutrition workshop and a wellbeing session with the Shooting Star Program Facilitators.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes were made to the original plan. However, the Shooting Stars initiative was able to adapt to hold an engaging and positive camp for the girls who all responded positively to the camp.