As the days become warmer throughout the country, I’m writing to you from the wheatbelt area of Western Australia completing the last of our student interviews across Australia. The hopeful joy and reserved nervousness of the families and children takes me back to over 40 years ago to when my parents and I were visiting Toowoomba Grammar School for my interview with the Headmaster. I know what’s ahead for these Indigenous children and their families. The opportunities, the highs, the homesickness, the tears, the wins, the lifelong friends, and the resilience and courage they will all need to support each other through the next six years of their secondary education.
Shortly, they will be visiting their chosen boarding schools for a tour and their interview. Reality and excitement hits all at once when they find themselves in the uniform shop staring in the mirror at their reflection, dressed in their new school uniform, as parents, grandparents and the Yalari Student Support Officer stands by and takes photos on their phones to capture the moment.
This year we’ve held three wonderful fundraising dinners in Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane with the opportunity to catch up with most of our students at the dinners as well as sponsors, donors, family, friends and school staff. We’ve held our camps, had our graduating Class of 23 attend their ceremony at Parliament House followed by a weekend of skiing, visited schools, sponsors, families and communities, and continued our solid commitment to supporting our students each and every day.
We’ve also had a few firsts. Following on from our Year 9 girls Outback Camp, we held our first Yalari Way Camp for sponsors and alumni where 10 supporters, 9 alumni, 6 staff and a videographer travelled the same route we have taken our students on for 15 years. There was dirt, rain, laughter, tears, food and cuppa’s, great company, cultural immersion, magnificent country, healing, bonding and a sense that we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves.
We also hosted our first 5 year reunion for the Class of 2018 at the RACV Royal Pines Resort, to be followed by our 10+ year reunion in October. Our alumni get to reconnect with each other and Yalari, sharing their journeys since leaving school and their aspirations for the future.
And another first is the inaugural Yalari Alumni Advisory Board of which there are 15 members who completed their Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) course. This board is set up to advise the Yalari board, train alumni to be future board members of Yalari, and allow our alumni to become qualified and experienced to take on board and leadership positions within communities, government, not-for-profit and corporate Australia.
Thank you for the continued support and confidence we are given by our donors and sponsors, children and families, and the wider Australian community.
Waverley Stanley AM
Founding Director, Yalari