The Devil Woman’s water 25 Nov 2014

More than 50 students from Haasts Bluff and Watiyawanu (Mt. Liebig) embarked on an expedition to two sites of significance to the Pintupi and Luritja people.
The schoolchildren were accompanied by school staff, traditional owners, Papunya Luritjiku rangers, Tangenteyre councillors and CSIRO officers.

The three-day bush expedition included a stopover among a large stand of marble gums, noted as a breeding location of the rare Princess Parrot during the big Wet Season of 2010 and 2011. The rangers spoke to the children about the ecological significance of the site, and the need for keeping it an undisclosed location to enable the birds to breed there.

The students also visited Tjunkupu – described by explorer Ernest Giles as a “charming little oasis” – and witnessed a special ceremony to appease the resident Devil Woman (Ukurukurru) - the guardian of the water site.

Watiyawanu School principal Larry Kenny said the traditional owners throw rocks to scare away the witch Ukurukurru, and name the people in the area to stop her stealing any of them.

“This is a place with a direct historical bearing to students in this region because the traditional owners relocated to Haasts Bluff after 9000 years of permanent settlement at this place, which has also been dated with sporadic settlement back 20,000 years,” he said.

“There are always logistical challenges in these trips. On this occasion we had to leave a trailer with a broken axle for five days at Tjunkupu, and repairing and recovering the vehicle was an 11-hour operation.
“But that’s a minor inconvenience compared to the educational benefits of trips like this.”

Devils woman water

Accolades flow at gala ceremony 18 Nov 2014

Five honours in three prize categories were bestowed on the Department of Education at the recent Chief Minister’s Awards for Excellence in the Public Sector. The tally comprised the Remote School Attendance Strategy (Strengthening Government and Public Administration) Growing Green Kids NT (Excellence in Partnering) and three recipients of the Public Sector Medal.

The Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) garnered an award for reversing a decline in attendance in most of the 30 Territory government schools involved in the program. Assistant Director Enrolment and Attendance, Eddie Gacitua, said the initiative has demonstrated a marked improvement in the majority of RSAS sites this year due to a close collaboration with all key stakeholders. Berry Springs Primary School was acknowledged for its educational alliance with the Territory Wildlife Park. The project operates as part of the new Growing Green Kids NT program. Students from preschool through to Year 6 undertake science studies in conjunction with the park.

Principal Leah Crockford said the expertise of the Territory Wildlife Park is a critical component in giving kids expertise and a detailed understanding beyond that available in the classroom. “The staff and kids are really proud of the partnership, and certainly this award would have been impossible without the park,” she said. Both Eddie Gacitua and Leah Crockford collected a trophy, a certificate, and a $12,500 cheque.

Public Sector Medals were awarded to the principal of Maningrida School Stuart Dwyer, for his commitment, leadership and mentoring in small community schools, Records Management Unit officer Eucharia Tipungwuti, an employee of 27 years’ service in schools and corporate environments, and posthumously to Carmelita Sceney, who worked in and for education in the Territory during more than a decade of major reform.

Chief Minister Award 2014

Anzac competition winners announced 12 Nov 2014

Four Territory school students will next year visit the hallowed ground of Anzac Cove after winning the Chief Minister’s Anzac Spirit Study Tour. The Year 9 to 11 contestants, Amy Chittick (Darwin High School) Juliette Parsons (Darwin Middle School) Jack Lake (Palmerston Senior College) and Stevie Pocock (Taminmin College) were chosen based on their superior print and video responses to the question: The Anzac Spirit arose from the actions of soldiers 100 years ago. Given their passing, what is it that keeps the Anzac Spirit alive?

The trip to Gallipoli will coincide with the Anzac Centenary commemorations and feature a tour of battlefields in Turkey and attendance at the Anzac Day Dawn Service.
The students were named as the award winners at a ceremony at Larrakeyah Barracks. They will be accompanied on the trip by Palmerston Senior College teacher Robert Lee, and defence attaché Corporal Cynthia Gilchrist.

The centenary marks the 100th anniversary of the nation’s involvement in the First World War.
(Left to right: Juliette Parsons, Jack Lake, Amy Chittick, Stevie Pocock)

Anzac competition winners