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Get set for school

06 July 2021, Impact of Our Work

Doomadgee children get school ready on Country

In Doomadgee, in far northwestern Queensland, the five-year-olds can’t wait to start school in 2022. They’ve been practicing their drawing, listening, letters and numbers thanks to Save the Children’s Connected Beginnings program.
 
Last month, Save the Children took the children and their families on Country in preparation for their next year at school. It’s a trip the staff have undertaken every year with the children due to enter school, and the one they look forward to the most.

Dumaji Child and Family Centre Team Leader Cyantha Hookey explains the camp is a highlight for both parents and children alike. “This was our first camp back since 2019, because COVID-19 restrictions didn’t allow us to hold one last year.  We had about 30 people from six families come for the weekend, with plenty of activities for everyone.”
 
“We left on Friday at lunch and got over to Adels Grove in the evening. We had activities for the children in the morning and afternoon, with plenty of free time for them to explore as well.
 
“We’re working with them to improve their school-ready skills, so we did activities like paintings on T-shirts, reading books, using pens and pencils and scissors, counting, and music and rhythm games.”

 
There was plenty of time for families to bond over the upcoming milestone, with cruising, canoeing and boating also part of the weekend activities.
The families look forward to having time with the kids and other families and especially, being back on Country. Some of them have never left the community. For some of them it was their first time at Adels Grove. But they loved it because it’s out bush, it’s our oasis in the desert.

Cyantha


Photo: Families bonded at the camp helping the children practice their school-ready skills.
Credits : Robert McKechnie / Save the Children Australia

 

Services for the whole community

The rest of the year will be just as busy at Dumaji, with another camp planned and ongoing regular activities.
 
“We have an upcoming camp for grandmothers and other carers,” says Centre Manager Isabel. “It focuses on children’s health and supporting them to look out after the grandchildren. Children’s health needs can be different from adults, and it’s important the grannies know what to look out for. We can support them through the centre by referring them to health services within the community. We also have a pediatrician come down from Mt Isa for that camp.”  
 
“We also coordinate afterschool clubs and playgroup here. We run a program called Strong Culture, Strong Families, that’s helping keep children from 10-17 years old out of the system. And we have a financial capability program that helps people with banking, budgeting and financial assistance. Soon we’ll also start Dads and Bubs groups too. It's been busy in the building here lately, getting our programs back up and running after corona, but it’s flowing again.”

 
With assistance from Cyantha, Isabel and the staff at the Dumaji Child and Family Centre, the residents of Doomadgee are supported to live healthier lives, and ensure the little ones are ready to start school and continue their learning into the future.

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