Arnhem Land graduates celebrate a big achievement 


Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Casuarina Campus is a long way from where a group of Arnhem Land students completed their VET studies under a bush shelter in their homelands.

The journey to Darwin last week represented a significant achievement for the students, who graduated with Certificate II in Community Services Work at CDU’s Graduation Ceremony.

CDU lecturers Jo Fox and Tricia Lithgow travelled to Arnhem Land throughout 2005 to deliver the course to the students in their own communities.

“By delivering the course where students felt most comfortable, students were able to learn without distractions and we could ensure the learning outcomes were most relevant to their current work, family and living situations,” Jo said.

Student Donna Munungurri said: “I am happy to do this course for my community. I learnt about home management, nutrition, aged-care and palliative care. We can now help people in our community using our new skills.”

Another student, Lirrpiya Mununggurr from Yirrakala said: “We did this course so it will be an example for other people to see what we’re up to, and might want to come and join in.”

The group met six times between February and October 2005, studying under bush shelters with no electricity. Coming from homelands throughout Arnhem Land, including Yilpara, Gan Gan, Buymarr and Garrathatala – some had to travel up to 200km to classes.

So successful was the program, the group has now gone on to study Certificate III in Community Services Work. They have also nominated a younger group from their communities who have enrolled to start certificate II.

Dhangatji Munungguri, who works at the resource centre at Laynhapy Homelands, also completed the course. He said: “Elders are good role models for young people. Good qualification means independence for our people.

“I want to get off CDEP (Community Development Employment Program), get full time employment. It’s good to have training, further knowledge and a real job.”

Other students, Djayak and Morri Munungguri, who both work at their community office in Garrathalala, said: “This course is helping us do our job better, doing what is right for us in the community. When Jo and Trish came, we were proud to show them our homelands and sights. Motjpi is our mothers’ country.”

The group graduated with Faculty of Education, Health and Science students on 25 May 2006, and have already begun further study.