These words set the scene for what transpired over two days at the 2019 National Indigenous Education and Boarding Symposium, Brisbane.

Our keynote speakers all had different perspectives. 

The challenging words from Richard Stewart, State Program Manager at the Transition Support Services in Far North Queensland, gave the viewpoint of a seasoned campaigner who has lived and breathed indigenous student boarding – the successes, the failures and the challenges.

The practical story by Anthony Begg of how Kinross Wolaroi School in Orange, NSW had transformed to recogniseand value Indigenous culture was full of ideas and very inspiring. Yet, seven years into their journey, Anthony felt that they still had some way to go. A lesson for all in having a vision and persistence.

The interview with Lorraine King provided a very different perspective. As a teenager, who wanted an education, Lorraine found many challenges making the move from central Australia to boarding in Darwin. Not being understood or supported at the school, not having family support nearby, self-harm and boys – all meant her school education was incomplete. Although she now has three qualifications, her path between two worlds is still anything but easy. 

These were just some of the voices we heard. 

We also heard from Andrew Giles MP, Assistant Shadow Minister for Schools, Anthony Bennett, Chairperson of Indigenous Education and Boarding Australia, Anthony Bevan, Partner – Indigenous Advisory at Grant Thornton along with 15 Q&A panel members from governments, schools and boarding, academia, scholarship providers, community organisations and remote communities. 

Then there were the voices of everyone who attended the Symposium – one hundred different and valuable voices, all contributing to the collective knowledge. Ideas and experiences were shared formally in discussion groups and in the gaps in between, one on one, in mingling groups, in passing conversations.  

All these voices encouraged thinking and inspired action to do ‘Whatever it Takes!’

State Program Manager at the Transition Support Services in Far North Queensland,Richard Stewart
Chairperson, Anthony Bennett with board member, Anthony Begg.
Ipswich Girls Grammar, Head of Boarding, Lisa Wolff with St Brendan’s College, Head of Indigenous Education, Peter Bartlett.