24/02/2011 - 00:00

New Clontarf facility on track

24/02/2011 - 00:00

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IMAGINE you are on a bus, travelling from North Beach to Manning to go to school; you’re in an unfamiliar city full of unfamiliar faces a long way from your regional home.

IMAGINE you are on a bus, travelling from North Beach to Manning to go to school; you’re in an unfamiliar city full of unfamiliar faces a long way from your regional home.

For the boarding students at Clontarf Aboriginal College, travelling from either North Fremantle or North Beach – where the current boarding accommodation is located – is a daily routine; but that is about to change with a new boarding house set for development on the same site as the Manning school.

Considering the college sits on prime riverfront real estate, views will be an added bonus when the 80-bed dormitory is completed by the end of September this year.

The project is costing $9.4 million in total, with the Catholic Education Office contributing just less than $2 million and the rest coming from sponsors and donors.

BHP Billiton has contributed $3 million, a further $2 million has come from the federal government and $2.2 million from the Indigenous Land Council, which recently became the owner of the land after it was donated by the Christian Brothers.

With the foundations of the boarding house laid, Catholic Education Office director Ron Dullard said there were numerous benefits to having the accommodation for students on site.

“It has come out of an increased demand and trying to find the best way to support the students,” he said.

“They were wasting a lot of time travelling backwards and forwards, and they weren’t all together because we couldn’t get accommodation in one place.”

Mr Dullard said not all of the school’s accommodation issues were being met with the development; it was originally a boys’ school, and since girls have shown interest in attending, Clontarf has opened its doors to female students.

With a large contingency of full-time and weekday boarders, there is a large demand for accommodation. To cater for the female students the school has applied for state government funding to build an additional 40 beds.

“It has traditionally been a boys only college, but girls are wanting to come there and we think a coeducational approach is appropriate,” Mr Dullard said.

“We have a problem as it is. We are building 80 beds, we have a disproportionate number of boys and girls, so the girls are still going to have to travel.”

He said the support was warranted, with supporting research outlining the benefits of boarding house support for indigenous students.

“There is certainly a lot of evidence around that says that (being in supported boarding accommodation) is most beneficial to Aboriginal students, particularly if you can build up a cohort of students from the same area, town or community, because they can support each other then,” Mr Dullard told WA Business News.

Clontarf is in the process of developing a broad spectrum of support for its students by creating connections with Curtin University and Notre Dame University.

Mr Dullard is hopeful Curtin students will be placed in positions of facility and student management at the new boarding house, while Notre Dame students will be engaged in a tutoring facility.

This year, the college will also start construction of a $3.4 million trade-training centre, funded by the Commonwealth, which will aim to engage students in tertiary education.

“What we are trying to do is put together a total integrated package of support for students, all of which we believe will help them in their educational outcomes,” Mr Dullard said.

He believes the government and corporate support for developing a strong support base that encouraged student engagement on a broad spectrum was a sign of changing attitudes to indigenous relations.

“I think there is great recognition that we can’t do things as we have always done them, we have got to look at different ways,” Mr Dullard said.

 

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