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Martu students from remote communities will soon have greater access to secondary schooling and vocational programs, with $4 million in funding announced today by the State Government to establish a new residential facility for students in Newman.
The project involves the conversion of three houses to provide separate accommodation for male and female students, and a common administration and meeting place.
The houses are owned by BHP and will be leased to the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation.
Planning approval is in place and, with construction due to begin in October, it is expected that the boarding-style facility will be ready to house up to 12 students from early 2021.
The proposal was developed by the Martu Schools Alliance in a partnership with the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation and the Pilbara Development Commission.
Comments attributed to Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
"Martu leadership decided in 2013 that improving education was to be their first development priority. They recognised their people largely missed out on jobs and business opportunities associated with the mining boom because of poor education.
"The Martu student residential facility will significantly support young Martu people to access a broader suite of secondary and vocational learning opportunities while staying connected with family - having the chance to walk in both worlds."
Comments attributed to Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery:
"Martu elders have expressed a desire for their young people to be educated both in Martu lore and in the modern Australian curriculum.
"This will enable their young people to meaningfully engage in the Pilbara economy while retaining a strong connection to culture and country."
Comments attributed to Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Melvin Farmer:
"Martu children who want to further their academic studies need to be able to do that close to family and country and without having to go away to the city or other distant places.
"The Martu Student Hostel will allow students who want a good high school education to have that without moving away from their families.
"Families can stay on-country and in communities and know their children are safe and getting a good education close to home.
"The Martu Student Hostel will be a place for learning and for these young people to become the Martu leaders of tomorrow."