What to Expect! A Year of Yalari…
Each year at Yalari is slightly different, but there are some events that recur every year. Below is a month-by-month look at some of the activities our scholarship students are involved in.
New students arrive on the Gold Coast for the Yalari Orientation Camp. The camp is compulsory for first and second year students and is held at one of our partner schools. It aims to prepare new students for boarding school life with the support from our staff, volunteers, senior students and alumni.
New students have started the school year and are now settling in and getting used to their new environments. The transition from small regional and remote schools can be difficult for some, especially for those who may be homesick. Most students adapt quickly and start enjoying all the facilities and activities their new school offers.
For those returning to school for another year, most are excited about getting back to catch up with their friends and settle into their routines.
In March, the recent Yalari graduates going on to tertiary study, begin university. The students remain supported by Yalari through the Yalari Pathways Program, the Yalari Alumni Association and informal activities and events.
Some Yalari graduates also begin work or other training after secondary school.
These graduates are the examples we envisaged for their communities when Yalari was established. Well educated, confident and ambitious, they are the future leaders of this country contributing in many different ways to a society where everyone is born equal, can live equal, and can feel equal.
Families across the country are putting finishing touches to their applications for scholarships for the following school year. Yalari applications close at the end of April. Applications involve a comprehensive written submission from students and families, plus supporting documentation in the form of school reports, references and medical information.
The schools have a rich offering of activities available for students to participate in. Being active and involved in the extra curricular activities helps our students in coping with some of the difficulties of boarding school life.
Yalari holds many special events each year for the students, from camps for each year group to activities based on students’ talents for writing, music, art and sport. These are generally run on weekends or in school holidays so as to minimise the interruption to the students’ academic studies.
June also sees the first of four Fundraising Dinners for the year. The dinners are held in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide and are a vital way for Yalari to engage with its supporters and showcase the work that is being done. They are renowned for being inspiring and memorable evenings.
The Yalari students from each state attend the relevant dinner, as well as many of their families. Our students act as MCs, give keynote speeches, and Indigenous performers entertain the audience.
Put together by our volunteer organising committees in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, they raise much needed funds for the organisation and introduce Yalari to more people and supporters each year.
The July school holidays see our Year 9 students embark on their eagerly awaited Outback Camps. Two mammoth camping experiences for boys and girls see Yalari students sleeping under the stars and eating bush tucker in Central Australia. Visiting remote communities and engaging with other Indigenous people, our students come away with a deeper understanding of the diversity of Aboriginal cultures and an appreciation of the opportunities they themselves have been given.
Yalari’s Year 12 students attend the Yalari Graduation Ceremony and ski weekend at the end of August. It is a time for celebration and reflection for these students, who are all successfully reaching the end of their boarding and high school journey.
September is the beginning of the interview process for new scholarship applicants.
Yalari believes it is vital to interview each applicant in their home, with their family. All the questions and concerns about school and boarding and travel can be answered and Yalari gets a clearer insight into whether that student and family could sustain the difficulties of life away from home.
Students who make it to this round nervously wait for Yalari staff to arrive to talk about their application and why they want to go away to school.
The distances travelled in this process are vast, with journeys to every corner of the country.
After the interview, students wait for a letter in the mail or a phone call from Yalari. Some may receive disappointing news, while others will never forget the moment they learned they had been accepted onto the scholarship.
October is the last stage in the process for new applicants; the interview with the Head of School. They may have been accepted onto a Yalari scholarship, but there is one last box to tick. The student travels with a parent or guardian for an interview and orientation at the school, just like every other student. This is the day they find out definitely where they will spend the next five or six years. That moment when the Head utters the magic words, “welcome to our school.” Then there is a tour of the massive campus, facilities and the boarding house. Sometimes there’s a uniform fitting, and a chance to meet some existing Yalari students and school staff. Many students ask if it would be okay if they started immediately!
November sees the last of Yalari’s Yr 12 students finishing their exams and assessments and looking to life after school.
Most of the Yalari students have already applied for university and are awaiting their results and first round university offers. Other students have their sights set on apprenticeships, traineeships or straight into the workforce. Yalari has a dedicated staff member who looks after the senior students across the country. They make sure the students have chosen the right subjects for the tertiary courses they want and they also shepherd them through the application process.
Another year done and dusted! Students pack up their rooms and cubicles and head home for a gloriously long summer break. A summer of sleep-ins, home cooking, nobody telling you where and when to be somewhere every hour of the day – heaven.
For the students who began this year, it is a remarkable achievement. It was one of the hardest things they’ve ever done, and they have made it. They have changed considerably since January, they are more confident, more articulate, surer of their place in the school and the world.
Other students go home gladly and yet immediately miss all the action of school and their friends in boarding. They will return soon enough, in a higher year that comes with more privileges and more responsibility.