Western Australia for Education Minister Elizabeth Constable
Public Teachers Camp Out To Keep Schools Afloat During Kimberley Flood Crisis
Victor P Taffa
Public School Teachers are sleeping on swags in classrooms at Bayulu Remote Community School to ensure students continue their schooling during the Kimberley floods.
Education Minister Liz Constable praised the extra efforts teachers and school staff in many remote communities this week.
“It is a difficult time for everyone in many communities, impacted by floods in the past week in extremely remote parts of Western Australia.” Dr. Constable said.
“Our Public School Teachers and staff are doing an exceptional job in assisting their communities and in some cases like Bayulu Remote Community School, teachers have gone to extraordinary measures to keep the school running.”
Bayulu, 16 km from Fitzroy Crossing, is cut off by rising flood waters. Teachers live in Fitzroy Crossing and would normally commute to Bayulu by four-wheel drive.
“Nine teachers and support personnel have volunteered to staff the school to keep it open this week. Eight of the staff were airlifted to the school by helicopter and are sleeping on swags in classrooms.” the Minister said.
“The rest of the school staff remain in Fitzroy Crossing and will continue to service Fitzroy Valley District High School.”
Bayulu Principal Ken Molyneux said mosquitoes, a lack of hot water and brown snakes were some of the challenges faced by teachers, but spirits were high.
“The teachers volunteered to be flown in to camp here because they feel it’s important for students to have a sense of normality in their school routine and to keep up their spirits.” Mr. Molyneux said.
The school, situated on part of Gogo Station, is 410 km from Broome and 2,700 km from Perth. It services five main communities including Bayulu, Joy Springs, Gillarong, Karnparrmi (Three Mile) and Ngalingkadji.
Dr. Constable said while four of the communities remained cut off from the school, teachers had been using the only transport available, a 12-seater bus, to collect students from Bayulu to bring them to school.
“They have to do four or more runs in the bus to get students to school. However, because the roads are cut off, they go cross country on bush tracks and have even been bogged on occasions.” Dr. Constable said.
The Minister praised the teachers for their dedication under difficult circumstances.
“I want to offer my thanks and support for their commitment to the education of students and acknowledge their work in remote areas is really appreciated.” Dr. Constable said.