Story: Boarding Is A Real Option
For a lot of students, completing a full secondary education means that they will have to move away from their home and their community, and take up board in a place they’ve never been to before.
But it needn’t be as scary as it initially sounds.
Shalom Christian College in Townsville is just one shining example of how students can get an education in a culturally appropriate environment and make a lot of new friends in the process. Approximately 155 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boarders aged between 13 and 18, as well as regular day students from the local area, attend the college.
Boarding has many advantages. It provides students with a supportive environment in which to complete a full secondary education and develop emotionally and socially. This school in particular is sensitive to the needs of its students, providing student support in that difficult period when they’ve just left home.
And as far as learning goes, Shalom is geared towards providing students with an environment that focuses on learning and personal growth while always being able to give positive and structured support where required.
Parental involvement is valued, supported and encouraged at the school and parents often head to Townsville for the weekend to spend time with their children. To combat homesickness, students have regular telephone contact with their families, and the school also provides students with Indigenous ‘house parents’ whom they can turn to when they need a little extra support.
Culturally, Shalom the school has a lot on offer. The school has its own dance group who perform in and around Townsville and have even toured interstate. It also offers a wide range of activities and opportunities to meet new friends and get involved in sport and other recreational activities.
Schools like Shalom Christian College make it easier for the parents of boarding students as well. They are reassured knowing that their child is getting the best possible education with the cultural support and empathy that is needed at such a young, yet important age.
However living away from home can be expensive! That is why there is an allowance made available to students who choose to or have to board, known as the Abstudy Boarding Allowance. This contributes towards the costs that families incur when boarding a student away from home. While you do have to be eligible, and the boarding arrangement has to be approved, it doesn’t have to be a boarding school, as such. Allowances can be provided to students who board in an approved hostel or special institution, and it’s also available to students boarding part time. Abstudy helps out with boarding allowance too.
This makes it all the more easier. Students living in isolated areas, now have the real option of completing their education in a supportive environment, and obtaining assistance in doing so if needed.
If you would like to find out more about Boarding Allowance, contact your local Indigenous Education Unit, or you can visit the DETYA website at www.detya.gov.au