Wadeye Indigenous community appeals to Pell

A Northern Territory Indigenous leader, Tobias Ngambe from the Wadeye Indigenous community west of Darwin has met with Sydney Cardinal George Pell to seek additional funding for a disadvantaged local school.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Thamarrurr Our Lady of the Sacred Heart has 600 primary school children even though the school only has room for a maximum of 300 and there is no high school for the 300 potential secondary students.

Located in the NT's sixth largest town of Wadeye, six hours west of Darwin, the area only accessible by road in the dry season.

Accompanied by Federal Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, Mr Nganbe and his colleagues met Cardinal Pell in Sydney yesterday to explain the needs of the local children and try to enlist his support for their cause.

Although Cardinal Pell does not have responsibility for the NT, which is under the jurisdiction of Darwin Bishop Ted Collins, he gave the delegation a sympathetic hearing, the Herald says.

"I think Catholic schools have served the communities well up there, but there seems to be a clear need for additional funding to meet the level of disadvantage, and I would anticipate the Catholic schools will be looking for ways in which they could better serve the people," Cardinal Pell said.

Thamarrurr school is administered by the Catholic Education Office, but it does not qualify as an independent Catholic school.

Mr Nganbe and his colleagues would like the church to take over the funding of the school, and are also seeking a large capital injection to improve its facilities, to correct what they say is 30 years of neglect that has produced two generations of children without a proper education.

Senator Heffernan backed the delegation, saying that "education in the Northern Territory is a disgrace".

"Somewhere between 3000 and 7500 children of high school age do not have access to a school," he said.

Illiterate kids need a saviour (The Australian, 20/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Wadeye (Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs)
Weeping Madonna Northern Pilgrimage

Aboriginal elder tells Catholics to challenge Indigenous injustices (CathNews, 15/9/06)
Bishops' social justice statement focuses on Indigenous disadvantage (CathNews, 14/9/06)

21 Nov 2006