Papunya is located 240 kms north west of Alice Springs in the MacDonnell Regional Council region and the local people are predominantly Luritja/Pintupi. It is the birthplace of contemporary indigenous Australian art. Papunya is also the home of the Warumpi band who were well-known in the 1980s for their hits such, “Blackfella/Whitefella” and “My Island Home”. Two late elders from Papunya also appear in the Hollywood movie “Quigley Down Under” starring Tom Selleck.

A typical school day in Papunya starts at 7:30 am when the RSAS (Remote School Attendance Strategy) vehicle does a drive around community picking up kids that are up and ready for school and also letting others know that it’s school time by way of the sound of the car horn. Pick-up trips to the four (4) outstations follow straight afterwards. The 4 outstations are Ulambaru (7 kms from Papunya), Blackwater (6 kms), Three Mile (11 kms) and Five Mile (15 kms). Pick-up and drop-off trips to the outstations cover more than 60 kms every school day.

The school provides breakfast for kids in the morning under the School Nutrition Program (SNP). School breakfast runs for 30 minutes before classes commence. A lot more kids come to school after the school breakfast has finished. Hence, Wanta has a breakfast room where kids that come late to school can still have Wheatbix or toast with hot Milo before they go to class.

Wanta runs a variety of activities every school day. Kids from certain classes spend time with the Wanta team playing sports or pursuing different interests in the Wanta room during their class teachers’ non-contact periods. In the Wanta room, they can do things such as play snooker, do arts and crafts or watch educational & kids’ movies. After school activities include footy, snooker, arts and crafts, hairstyling, make-up and nail polishing.

Last week there was a visit to Papunya by AFL NT. The kids took part in AFL footy clinics and had footy games at school. Later that night the kids played footy games again at the footy oval under the lights. The young men in community also had a footy game after the kids had finished.

Last term Wanta brought their outdoor movie truck to community and the kids and members of the community had a outdoor cinema experience watching a movie on the big screen. Another recent highlight was when Wanta in partnership with MacYouth took some of the school kids to Haasts Bluff for a round robin footy tournament with kids from Mt Liebig and Haasts Bluff.

This term also, members of the Wanta team informed students during morning school pick-up that members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will be coming to Papunya school. Later that morning kids had fun getting on the army Humvees and asking questions to the army personnel.

Wanta has been able to effectively carry out the RSAS program in Papunya due to the incredible support of the local people. The residents of Papunya recognise and appreciate Wanta as an important service provider in community that is crucial for the betterment of their kids’ educational outcomes and future as a whole.

Written by Henly Taka, Director Papunya RSAS.