Jarara teacher making a difference

Julie Waddell
Julie Waddell

Jarara Specialist Teacher Julie Waddell has worked in prisons helping Aboriginal women learn how to read and write and is now applying her extensive experience helping our students in western Sydney.

Julie works with more than 100 Indigenous students at St Clare Catholic High School, Hassall Grove and Xavier College, Llandilo developing personalised learning plans in an effort to lift the learning.

Personalised Learning Plans provide an opportunity for students, their families and community to have a voice in empowering our students to recognise their strengths and articulate their goals and aspirations for future pathways.

A community based approach to the education of our students aims to provide a continuous pathway for learning for Aboriginal students.

Julie, who is part of the Jarara Indigenous Education Unit,  said one of the major challenges is attendance. “Many of these young people just don’t come to school and this is vital for their future.” 

“We need to empower the kids in getting to school and we are trying different ways to do this.”

However there are some practical issues that play a deterring factor.

Poor attendance can be a visible symptom of a situation that needs addressing from a larger and more holistic perspective. By identifying and eliminating the barriers preventing our students from attending school we can empower our students to build the confidence to engage in their learning.

One student felt restricted because she didn’t have any technology device, didn’t have a uniform, had trouble getting to school and couldn’t afford lunch.

“So we sorted those issues out and she’s now coming to school,” Julie said.  

Lunch-time cultural sessions in which Ingenious students learn the Darug language have also played a role in bolstering identity.

"It is imperative that we empower our students by allowing them to be involved in making real decisions in the learning process. The ideals of encouraging all youth, especially Aboriginal Youth to have a good education and a chance for long-term employment is a challenge that is well-worth the effort," she said.

Julie is an Aboriginal person and proud descendent of the Kamilaroi people of Northern NSW. Her Mother’s Country is Kamilaroi and she was born on Gadigal land in Sydney but is also recognised by the Darug People in western Sydney where she has lived and worked most of her life.
Julie’s teaching career spans many years having been a NSW primary school teacher but in 2012 Julie said she was privileged to join the Aboriginal Education Unit with TAFE NSW as an Aboriginal Education Coordinator. 

Since transitioning from classrooms to Aboriginal Education Julie has been seconded to several unique positions. 

These have included teaching Aboriginal women to read and write in prison and as an Academic Learning Advisor in The Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education at Western Sydney University. 

In this position Julie developed and implemented a cultural awareness­ training package for staff, students and corporate bodies. 

“But after being away from schools for several years I realised how much I missed working with kids,” she said. 

“This led me to apply for the position at Jarara and I feel very blessed to join the staff here at St Clare and Xavier I am really happy to assist in any way.

"As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child and I am very blessed to be a part of this village."
Posted By CathEd Parra at 30/08/2017 10:13:56 AM

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