From Kiwirrkurra to boarding school & back

From one of Australia’s most remote and isolated communities to the bustling city, Lydia Ward and Tanella West made a brave and giant leap that has inspired them to support youth in their home community of Kiwirrkurra.

Located in the Gibson Desert, Kiwirrikurra is home to Pintubi, including the Pintubi Nine, Australia’s last family of nomadic Aboriginal people who only made contact with white settlement in 1984. Lydia Ward is the daughter of one of the Pintubi Nine.

Both Lydia and Tanella were encouraged by their family to attend boarding school. For some Anangu youth, boarding school is a good education option providing a wide range of learning and social experiences. NPYWC’s Youth Service Boarding School Program supports interested young people and their families to access boarding school programs.

Starting at boarding school was a big adjustment, Lydia’s first day at La Salle in Perth was “the scariest moment of my life”.

“When I got there I was feeling shy around them other whitefella students but then the next day they taught me to be brave and happy.” Lydia said.

Lydia’s favourite school subjects were religion and sports. Tanella loved maths and history. Boarding allowed Lydia & Tanella to explore and understand the city, go to movies, hang out at the beach and meet new people. Favourite boarding house meals were chicken curry and chicken and rice!

Last year, Lydia completed year 12 at La Salle College in Perth. Completing year 12 is a massive achievement for remote community students who may have to overcome significant cultural and language barriers to engage with the school system. The NPYWC Boarding School program supports students in their journey ensuring they are equipped practically and emotionally to engage with their new school setting.

On returning back home to Kiwirrkurra, both Tanella and Lydia approached the NPYWC Youth Service about a job. Both are now employed by NPYWC as Anangu Support Workers helping to run programs that encourage the development of young people in their community.

“Because we are local, we understand our community- our culture and language …. this helps with the kids….we have also been in their shoes and grown up just like them so that is something that makes our relationship with the kids strong already.”

“Working together is really good, we respect each other, we talk to each other if there is a problem and sort it out together….”.

Find out more about the Youth Service