A gentle hand gives students the lead in Tennant 

Student Latisha Farrell receives a certificate of progress from the Director of Community and Access at CDU, Paul Fitzsimons

An innovative pre-education course which tackles anxieties among Indigenous people is resulting in excellent training outcomes in Tennant Creek.

A recent ceremony held at Charles Darwin University’s campus at the town has recognised the achievements of 23 students with many re-entering education via the program.

This includes 14 students acknowledged for their progress in the pre-study program with a further nine students congratulated after they completed the first block of the Australian Government benchmarked Language Literacy and Numeracy (LLNP) program.

The pre-education course is a precursor to LLNP and was created after local lecturers realised many local Indigenous people saw education as an extension of their negative childhood classroom experiences.

The foundation program’s Fijian born teacher, Laisa Whippy, was a critical link in the program, developing solid relationships with new students and opening a positive study environment.

VET lecturer at Tennant Creek, Kate Young said Laisa’s gentle nature and cultural background opened doors for students who would have otherwise avoided learning.

“She is someone who can culturally relate to her students and makes them feel valued and welcome in class no matter what their skill levels are,” she said.

Thematic Team Leader at CDU, Alan Murray also attended the event and said the pre-education course responded to the needs of many Territorians.

“There is a generation of Indigenous people who felt ostracised within the school system and it’s critical we give them confidence and dignity back in the classroom,” he said.

“We are now seeing many students moving into more intense language, literacy and numeracy programs thanks to the wonderful work here in Tennant Creek.”

The Member for Barkly, Mr Elliot McAdam MLA, and the Director of Community and Access at CDU, Mr Paul Fitzsimons, also attended the awards event and congratulated the recipients.

Ms Young thanked Laisa Whippy and LLNP contract lecturer Derek McPadden for their commitment to the students’ positive outcomes.