GROUP of Wik women from Cape York have lashed out at the review into Aurukun’s community school, comparing it to the 1970s when “the government barged in to take over our community”.
The grassroots Wik Women’s Group complain they were not consulted in the State Government’s review of Aurukun’s primary school, launched after a series of violent attacks forced the evacuation of teaching staff.
But the Director-General of the Department of Education and Training, Jim Watterston, has defended the review process, declaring the Wik Women’s Group was provided with many opportunities to contribute to the report.
The review panel, which handed down its 67-page report this week, has recommended strengthening the role of the Department of Education in the day-to-day operations of the school, which has been run by Noel Pearson’s Cape York Aboriginal Australia Academy.
The Wik Women said they were “profoundly upset” the completed report dismissed the strong community view that the school had created record levels of student progress through its Direct Instruction syllabus.
“We do not support a government takeover of the school, which would take us and our school back to the dark days when children were not learning,” one of the group’s co-founders Phyllis Yunkaporta said.
Ms Yunkaporta said the “army of reviewers” who travelled to Aurukun only interviewed a select group of people.
“The review process was like the ’70s when the government barged in to take over our community and remove the church,” she said.
But Mr Watterston said he participated in a teleconference with Ms Yunkaporta, and another senior figure in the Wik Women’s group was interviewed by a member of the review team.
“I met with the Wik Women’s Group on Tuesday this week in Aurukun where these concerns were raised and addressed,” he said.