Passion drives educator's pledge to Fitzroy Crossing
Taking inspiration from her early days growing up as a Maori in a low socio-economic area in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, Louise Perrott is loving her time in Fitzroy Crossing.
In fact, the educator from Goodstart Drysdale is so committed to furthering her understanding of the needs of the remote community, four hours from Broome in Western Australia, Goodstart has extended her secondment period until the end of the year. She has just signed on to stay until December this year and has been appointed the Early Childhood Learning Centre coordinator.
Posted at the Baya Gawiy Buga yani Jandu yani u Centre, which provides care to about 35 families with children ranging from four months to four years of age, Louise was initially part of a secondment program whereby Goodstart educators spend three months in the community.
It’s a program which enables Goodstart educators to make a deep and genuine connection with Indigenous culture, broaden their experience and develop their profession in a unique environment.
Mrs Perrott decided to take on the secondment after realizing her background growing up as an indigenous New Zealander may offer her a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by Indigenous Australians.
“While my situation is quite different to that of the people I have met here, it’s helped me to build connections,” Mrs Perrott said. “A lot of the situations here remind me of my culture 50 years ago when I was struggling with my background.”
Since joining the community, Mrs Perrott has signed up for netball, tennis and touch footy with local teams and heads to Broome once a month to pick up supplies for the week ahead. She has visited local areas including Leopold Station, visiting rock paintings and gathering medicinal and food plants. She has learnt how to cook kangaroo tail and visited Danguu Gorge.
“Connecting to the land allows you to become more connected to the children, families and community,” she said.
“It also gives you a greater understanding of the environment in which we are living and teaching.
“One of the main issues here is that the local people have seen so many people come and go over the years and families get suspicious,” Mrs Perrott said. “For me, part of my role is in building relationships with the Indigenous women who are always talking to me about my Maori culture.
“I talk to them about the importance of loving their families and always trying to put your family first. We don’t talk about non-indigenous things such as what’s on the TV.”
With two grown up children, aged 27 and 24, and a husband back at home in Melbourne, Mrs Perrott heads home every three months for a catch up but is determined to meet her goals by December.
“We are also working towards getting our assessment and rating and I’m working towards an exceeding. I hope I can achieve that before I leave here.”
Emily Carter, CEO of Marninwanrtikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre runs the Bay Gawiy childcare centre and said it offers the highest quality of education while integrating into the learning ethos a respect for local Indigenous knowledge.
The Baya Gawiy partnership is also part of Goodstart’s social purpose commitment to ensure that all children have the learning, development and wellbeing outcomes they need for school and life.