Just 15 kids from Kindergarten to Year 12 are enrolled at Strelley Community School, 40 kilometres east of Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of WA. A twin campus is at Warralong, about an hour’s drive to the south. Students can attend either, and a few divide their time between each, depending on where they are living at the time.
At the much smaller campus in Strelley Community, each school day begins with 30 minutes of reading, with kids choosing books from the ever-expanding school library. The older stock of books has in recent years been supplemenetd with new books gifted through our Foundation’s Book Supply Program.
“Most times when the books arrive we open the boxes and the kids have a good look through and choose something to read,” says teacher Paul Westerink.
The first school at Strelley Station was established in 1976 so the children could be educated “two ways” in the community, without having to be sent away to receive their education. It remains the oldest continually operating Aboriginal community school in Australia.
For many students at Strelley Community School English is their second language. Some have grown up speaking Nyangumarta, although Warnman, Yindjibamdi, Kariyara and Manyjiljarra are also spoken in the community. Over the years, an extensive collection of educational resources in Nyangumarta has been developed but the books from ILF always generate much excitement. Picture books, books about sport and those with Indigenous content are generally the most popular.
“Some kids ask to borrow them, if there’s a book they really like. They don’t always come back, but that’s okay … [The books] are very interesting so are read much. [The kids] love them.”