Our Academy and community will work together to make our kids strong in both Bininj (Indigenous) and Balanda (non-Indigenous) learning, so that when they leave the Academy they have the knowledge, skills and confidence that they need to make good life choices.
The Nawarddeken Academy story begins in 2002 when our professor, Bardayal Lofty Nadjamerrek AO, established the Manwurrk ranger program at Kabulwarnamyo, a forerunner of Warddeken Land Management Limited (WLML). This program pioneered Australia’s first carbon project, allowing traditional owners to live and work on country.
For some years, rangers and their families lobbied for education to be delivered on country so they would not have to leave their children with family in larger towns. Elders and parents dreamed of two-toolbox education to make their children strong in two worlds – Bininj and Balanda.
This dream was realised in 2015 when, with the generous support of the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust and Gunbalanya School, the Nawarddeken Academy was established at Kabulwarnamyo providing two-toolbox education for school aged children.
The following year, at the request of community elders and mothers of young children, we instituted an Early Learning Program for pre-school age children. The program is well supported by local women, who share responsibility for planning and delivery of early learning activities. It also provides valuable training and part-time employment opportunities for young mothers.
In 2017, Nawarddeken Academy Limited was registered as a wholly owned subsidiary of WLML, and the board established. In December 2018, we gained Independent School Registration, commencing January 2019. Registration brings recurrent government funding that will secure the financial future of the Academy and more importantly, provide Kabulwarnamyo students with the education they deserve.
Our children are now receiving a first-rate education on country. Our bi-cultural education approach engages Indigenous leaders, rangers and skilled teachers. The future of Nawarddeken depends on our children learning to live, work, and thrive within two knowledge systems.