Stars Take Part in Katherine Law Week

A group of Katherine Stars was given a private tour of the local prison cells during Katherine Law Week recently.

The cells have never been open to the public before, and it was a real eye-opener for the girls to see just how small they are inside and the complete lack of privacy available for inmates to use the toilet.

The group of ten girls from Years 10, 11 and 12 also visited the Local Court, where they had an opportunity to sit in on a ‘Mock Court’.

They role-played being members of the jury deliberating on a case. When the verdict was delivered, the girls had to speak in front of everyone in the court to confirm the outcome – guilty or not guilty!

Local service providers, including the Witness Assistance Service, Wurli StrongBala Men’s Health, Venndale Rehabilitation Centre, North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) and the Northern Territory Police, also held information stalls at the event.

The girls spent some time visiting the stalls, exploring the justice system more fully and learning about the range of possible employment opportunities and career paths available to them in the future.

Elders Share Wisdom at Sanderson

The Sanderson Stars program, in partnership with Catholic Care NT and CarersNT, arranged for our Year 9 Stars to spend some quality time with local Aboriginal Elders in the weeks leading up to Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June).

Once a week, the girls have been sitting down with the women and choosing an activity to engage in together. The Elders have brought some of their insights and wisdom to the girls through a range of activities, including preparing and cooking damper in the ground, talking about their past experiences, and sharing many Dreamtime stories.

It has been very moving to witness the strong rapport that has developed between the women and girls, with smiles and laughter abounding. Many of our girls have been able to make personal family connections with the Elders, which has brought the group even closer together.

The women have been very giving of themselves, happy to share the good and not so good times they have lived through. They have repeatedly stressed to the girls the importance of family traditions and a good education.

The Elder sessions have further developed the girls’ sense of themselves and their culture, and has had a strong impact on their respect for one another.

Engagement Camp Builds Trust

One of the most important elements of the Stars program are the strong, positive relationships of trust that we build with our girls.

We know that if our girls feel a sense of belonging – of being cared for and cared about – they are much more likely to attend school and engage fully in their learning.

Recently, Stars Mentors from Katherine took some of the Year 7, 8 and 9 students on an overnight engagement camp at the stunning Litchfield National Park, south west of Darwin.

The girls were selected to attend the engagement camp with the view of increasing their attendance. It was clear that with the right encouragement and support, the girls’ attendance and engagement could be significantly improved.

During the camp, the Katherine Stars visited Wangi Falls and had a brilliant time swimming at Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls. Activities also included face painting, footy and a range of board games, which all encouraged fun and easy interaction.

By building strong relationships with the girls, and encouraging them to bond with each other, our Stars Mentors encourage them to feel more positive about attending school, engaging with each other and the Stars staff, and taking an active role in their own learning.

Stars of the Sea

Dripstone Year 8 Stars had their sea legs tested while touring Landbridge at Darwin Port during Term 2.

As part of the Education, Training and Employment pillar of the Stars Plan, the tour was designed to expand the girls’ horizons about the types of exciting work opportunities that are available to them.

The girls were introduced to the complexities of the Darwin Port Control Centre, where they were transfixed by the massive bank of monitors that use infrared radars to display the various ships in the harbour and help the technicians direct traffic in and out of the Port efficiently and safely.

The girls learned about importing and exporting and that many of the products that they and their families use every day, including cars and mobile phones, arrive in Darwin packed in huge shipping containers by the hundreds. As part of the tour, the girls were able to witness a ship being loaded with cargo ready for export.

A mock ‘day in the life’ of a Border Force marine tactical officer at sea was conducted on board an Australian Border Force Patrol Boat, where the girls learned about the range of duties that need to be undertaken every day.

While exploring the many secret nooks and crannies aboard the ship, the girls were surprised to hear that the crew sometimes stays out at sea for four weeks at a time – with no access to wifi and limited contact with their family and friends back home.

Thanks to Landbridge and tour guide, Kerri Small, for opening our Stars eyes to the very interesting career opportunities that are available at Darwin Port and with the Australian Border Force.

Stars Believing in Their Future Selves

One of the key things Stars works on with our students is self-belief. We know that if the girls believe that they are capable of things, they are much more likely to put in the effort needed to achieve success.

Stars Mentors from Heatley Secondary College in Townsville recently took eight girls camping on Magnetic Island to work on their self-confidence and strengthen their engagement with school.

Each of the girls had been showing signs of disengagement, including low school attendance, behavioural issues in class, and inconsistent engagement with the Stars program.

The camp provided the girls with an opportunity to step up and do things that challenged them, including handling snakes and other reptiles, going snorkeling, hiking in the bush, and other  team-building activities most of them hadn’t done before.

With a lot of effort, and support from their Stars Mentors, the girls were able to overcome their fears and deal successfully with these challenges.

The girls’ achievements on camp showed them that they can face difficult things and overcome them – at school and in life – if they believe in themselves and always try their best.

A Starring Role

Yirrkala Stars girls took part in a theatre-style performance of an ancient Yolŋu creation story this week, along with other students from Yirrkala School and community Elders.

‘Yawulŋura’ is a bilingual and intergenerational production incorporating theatre, dance and a mix of contemporary and traditional music.

Students from Years 4 to 10 rehearsed with Corrugated Iron Youth Arts for one month before the performance and senior Stars student, Kaya Munungurr, provided great leadership during rehearsals by translating for the other students and modelling good listening and positive behaviour.

The performance was part of the Yirrkala Dhäwu project, a two-year collaboration between the Yirrkala School, Corrugated Iron Youth Arts, Buku-Larrŋggay Mulka Yirrkala Arts Centre and co-directors Sarah Hope and Banbapuy Ganambarr.

Read more.


Yirrkala Stars Student Meets Prince Charles

Yirrkala Stars student, Kaya Munungurr, was thrilled to be part of the Traditional Owner group that welcomed His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to East Arnhem Land this week.

Even more exciting was that Kaya got to meet and speak with Prince Charles as he had a close look at the print she has been working on all term.

“I was really nervous to talk to him, but he was nice and kind,” Kaya says.

“He asked me what my print was about. He also asked what the words wangarr (totem) and bapurru (clan) meant. I’m happy I got to meet him.”

These are the words Kaya wrote to accompany her print in the exhibition, which Prince Charles is reading in the photo:

My name is Dhurumul Munuŋgurr. I am a Yolŋu woman. I was born in Gove hospital and grew up in Yirrkala. My moiety is Dhuwa. My skin name is Galiyan. My bäpurru is Djapu. My waŋarr is mäṉa. My yirralka is Wandawuy. I speak Dhuwaya, English and Dhuwal.

This photo was taken at my school. This portrait is about my mother’s clan. I chose these designs because I really love them. I made this portrait because I wanted to show the world my mother’s culture.

My strengths are being ralpa, training for football, helping, leading, and caring. I am good at football, maths, English, and different types of sports. I am also good at hunting, swimming, listening, and chilling with my family.

My dreams when I graduate are that I really want to find a job with a good education. Also I want to get an ATAR university certificate. The people that will support me are my mum and my dad, Stars and my teachers.

Shining Start for Queensland Stars

It’s been a brilliant start to the year for Stars Foundation’s three new programs in Townsville, Queensland, with attendance soaring among our girls.

Across the Queensland programs, we have seen outstanding improvements in attendance among our Stars girls. In one school, we have recorded an average increase among Stars students of 17 per cent.

In some cohorts, the attendance rate of Stars girls is more than 30 per cent higher than the figure for all Indigenous students across the school.

More than 250 girls are being mentored and supported to be the best they can be across the three schools involved – Heatley SC, Thuringowa SHS and Pimlico SHS.

Feedback from school principals and staff at the schools has been wonderful, including this from an experienced teacher at Heatley Secondary College:

“I have been fortunate enough to spend time in and around the Stars room. There is a definite ‘energy’ that encompasses not just the room but flows out to surrounding areas and playgrounds.

It is amazing how the Stars Mentors are developing leadership and compassion in our senior students. It is obvious that RESPECT is a value that the program is reinforcing … I believe our girls are generally showing more respect for themselves and for others since the Stars program has been in place.

What a blessing to our community!”


Star Portraits!

Stars girls in Nhulunbuy and Yirrkala have been pursuing the complex art of portrait photography and were proud to have their beautiful works exhibited by Anglicare at its International Women’s Day (IWD) event in Yirrkala on 8 March.

Before preparing for the exhibition, the girls worked hard learning how to capture not just a ‘likeness’, but also something of the personality or mood of their subject.

They learned how to frame their shots effectively and use natural light and studio lighting to create different effects and atmospheres.

Using each other as models, they first worked on honing their skills, and then each girl wrote to a female role model within the local community, inviting them to have their portrait taken. The portraits then became part of the IWD exhibition.

Year 7 Stars student from Nhulunbuy, Shea McSherry, was thrilled to win the ‘People’s Choice Award’ for her evocative portrait of Yirrkala School Co-Principal, Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs.

Stars is Closing the Gap – 96% Year 12 Completion Rate in 2017

Stars is continuing to close the gap in education outcomes, with 96 per cent of our senior girls completing Year 12 in 2017. This is a stunning achievement, particularly when you consider the overall national rate of Year 12 completion for Indigenous people was as low as 65.3 per cent in 2016. The figure was even lower in the Northern Territory at just 39.1 per cent (Closing the Gap Report 2018).

Read our newsletter to find out more about the great outcomes our program is achieving with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Stars Newsletter_TERM ONE 2018

Stars Foundation
To support and enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women to make active choices towards realizing their full potential in all aspects of their development and wellbeing.