Wiltja is a program initiated and governed by Anangu for the benefit of their children and communities. It is a unique model in the Australian educational landscape.
From the 1970's
In the 1970s, a group of Ernabella women attended an Indigenous Peoples’ Conference in Adelaide and foresaw the advantages of offering mainstream secondary schooling to their children.
The initial group of female students were enrolled at Ingle Farm High School in 1980. This initiative was entirely driven by Anangu who were of the view that their children’s future interests and those of their communities could be best served by the educational opportunities offered in a mainstream environment.
This decision has resulted in the establishment of the Wiltja Program which is directly governed by Anangu communities and resourced by the South Australian Department for Education. The Commonwealth supports students boarding costs via the ABSTUDY program administered by Services Australia.
Wiltja Boarding provides a supportive educational and living environment in which students are valued and appropriately accommodated. Students undertake their secondary education at Wiltja Boarding solely on the basis that they and their families actively wish for them to participate in the Program.
The objective of Wiltja Boarding is to achieve the expressed desire of Anangu that their children are empowered by the educational experience at Wiltja Boarding to become self-determining in order to manage their communities, determine their own futures and actively participate in the wider world.
Anangu have a strong commitment and desire to ensure their children have access to the best education possible. They expressly want their children to be ‘able to walk in two worlds’. Wiltja Boarding is an important part of supporting this vision and building the capacity of their communities to secure the future of generations to follow.
Department for Education
The South Australian Department for Education (DfE) administers education in all areas of the State. In the 1980’s, DfE in a far-sighted decision provided “Operational Control” of education to Anangu Communities in the remote North West of SA.
This region is known as the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands).This situation of Anangu control and Governance continues and has developed strongly into a cohesive and close partnership arrangement between each community school and the community that it serves. Yalata and Oak Valley communities in the South West of SA are also included in this alliance.
In addition, the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Education Committee (PYEC) was formed in order to represent all communities and formulate and determine the educational directions/plans for the Anangu Lands Partnerships schools. Anangu Lands Partnership is an educational region within DfE.
Anangu Lands Partnerships delivers education within the region via 11 DfE community based schools. Wiltja Boarding, although metropolitan based, is a formal part of Anangu Lands Partnerships. The PYEC is Wiltja’s Governing Council. Anangu Lands Partnership schools determine their educational priorities and develop their plans directly from the over – arching PYEC plan.
Wiltja is formally reviewed every two years by the PYEC and reports directly to the PYEC on a quarterly basis at meetings held directly in communities in the APY lands. This model ensures that Wiltja Boarding is directly controlled by Anangu and operates in accord with their wishes within the supports and resources provided by the wider DfE apparatus. It is a truly successful model of Anangu determining their own futures and working collaboratively with their mainstream partners.
Wiltja Boarding is therefore a program initiated and governed by Anangu for the benefit of their children and communities. It is a unique model in the Australian educational landscape.