Transition from remote community to boarding school for Indigenous students: the Lockhart River experience

Transition from remote community to boarding school for Indigenous students: the Lockhart River experience Conference Paper

AARE-NZARE 2014: Speaking back through research

  • Author(s): Richard, Stewart
  • Published: 2014

Abstract: Each year over 500 Indigenous students from Cape York in Far North Queensland and the communities of the Torres Strait leave their home communities to attend boarding school in a variety of locations in Queensland and interstate. A significant number of these students do not complete their first year of secondary education, let alone their Year 12 studies. For young people from the remote Indigenous community of Lockhart River, 800 kms north of Cairns on Cape York, the transition to boarding school is a fact of life when they complete Year 7. In 2015 the transition will occur at the end of Year 6. With this transition, Lockhart River mirrors remote Indigenous communities throughout Far North Queensland and remote regions in South Australia, Western Australian and the Northern Territory. Access for remote Indigenous students to comprehensive secondary education in major urban centres is a key element of government policy aimed at addressing significant disparities in education outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Despite this, there is little recent research into the transition process and its effectiveness in ensuring the delivery of a quality secondary education. A review of the literature reveals that ‘little research has exclusively explored the experience for Aboriginal children of studying away from home at boarding school’ (Mander, 2012, p.9). The research described in this study uses qualitative methods, especially from a phenomenological orientation, to examine the transition from the perspective of the participants: students, parents and caregivers and school and support staff. Interviews and the analysis of relevant documents allow the research to ‘go inside’ the experience and provide detailed participant perspectives on the transition to boarding school. The research is conducted in a manner consistent with the requirements for working with Indigenous communities and is supported through the operation of an Indigenous advisory group. In all, the research works to engage the Lockhart River community and make an important contribution to the literature regarding participant perspectives on a transition process, the success of which is central to maximizing the opportunities for success for Indigenous students who must participate in secondary education well away from their home communities. In giving voice to a range of participants in the transition process , the research focuses on an area which has received little in the way of detailed analysis and scrutiny despite the importance of successful transitions in improving education and life chances for Indigenous children.

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Suggested Citation
Richard, Stewart, 2014, Transition from remote community to boarding school for Indigenous students: the Lockhart River experience, Conference Paper, viewed 16 June 2024,

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