YMCA is now in its third year of running the Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS), which helps increase at-risk student’s school attendance. Due to the initiative’s success and the identified need, the program has expanded to provide support across three schools across Newman.
The YMCA RSAS program is a referral-based program; student referrals come mostly from the school and occasionally from The Department for Child Protection and Family Support.
Kyraley Drake, YMCA RSAS School Engagement Officer, a young traditional landowner, confirmed “This program has made a really positive impact on both high school and primary school children. We collect the children from home in the morning, we sit with them and assist them with reading and numeracy, and when it starts getting a little tricky we take a break and might play basketball. Then, when the children have calmed down we go back into the classroom and try again.
I understand how difficult learning can be as I was one of those disengaged Aboriginal children! So I can relate to them. It’s so rewarding though, like I have one little guy who’s now been coming to school for 10 consecutive days. Before now, he’d not been for more than two days in a row! One day I had to take his bike on the bus so he’d come to school but that’s okay, as long as he comes I don’t mind.”
The role of the School Engagement Officer is to support families, parents, carers and children so school aged children attend school every day; arriving on time and remaining at school for the duration of the school day.
As a result of the program school attendance figures are growing and outcomes look promising.