Eylandt echo : Fortnightly news & events for the Groote Eylandt community proudly produced by GEMCO
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Groote Eylandt; Groote Eylandt (N.T.) -- Newspapers
Groote Eylandt Mining Co.
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Groote Eylandt Mining Co
October 10th 2012 Page 10 Australians propensity for theme days seems perpetual. Many good causes have adopted a time to focus on an issue, whether its breast cancer, poverty or homelessness - the intention being to draw understanding and possibly support. This week, Wednesday 5 September, was the 6th occurrence of Annual Indigenous Lit eracy Day. On Groote Eylandt, where all country is private aboriginal freehold land, and over 1400 traditional indigenous Australians live, National Indigenous Literacy Day has real significance. Sadly, academic re sults for indigenous Groote Eylandt kids have been declining for sometime. Results on the Australian Assessment and Re porting Authority show the local school as being in the lowest band in the country (see http://www.myschool.edu.au/ schoolsearch.aspx). Residing adjacent to local communities is one of Northern Australia most successful mines Groote Eylandt Mining Company (GEMCO). Approximately 30 local coun try men and women work at the mine. GEMCO is well aware of the difficulties many indigenous persons have in adapting to an English speaking work environment. Several years ago GEMCO ini tiated their own literacy and numeracy training programme to assist employees with the ad justment. Over several years the employees have shown a genuine effort to improve skills many succeeding. Matt OHare and Caro lyn Fletcher oversee and operate the GEMCO literacy program. Together they felt the Indigenous Literacy Day pre sented and excellent opportunity to pro mote the achievements of staff in the mines program, but also engage with the children and wives of the same people. The chaps working for the mine have made a choice to do so. Whilst staff are fostered it remains a take it or leave it arrangement. The successful indigenous workers are role models for their kids in living a combination traditional and cul tural lifestyle. In doing so they appear to recognise the options education and in particular competency in English pro vides. Matt and Carolyn felt that this sub sample of com munity (i.e. the GEMCO indige nous staff) pro vided a niche to chip away at our local indigenous literacy issues. The crew and their families were invited to attend an afternoon of reading and writing awareness. Many of the kids do not regularly attend school (42% attendance), a fact known by gov ernments and education professionals. It was some surprise, but also gladness that the vast majority kids and wives of GEMCO staff attended the literacy day. The day involved a round robin of short tasks including: ipad familiarisation, story reading, painting and library tours. The kids were escorted by their parents and their concentration and participation were a credit. The working mums and dads deal with the realities of modern English domi nated workplace daily and showed support for their kids in attempting all activities. A few of the skills they had learnt at work were proudly demonstrated to their kids. Matt and Carolyns concept was mani fested in an engaging and rewarding day. The legacy is likely to be an institutional ised as annual event. The organisers can be proud to have initiated the event, but equally importantly is the hope that one day future indigenous leaders of Groote Eylandt will be influenced to familiarise with English, providing options and un derstanding in a world 20 years from now. GEMCO Indigenous Literacy Day Workshop By Simon Hartley
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