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 professor Bardayal Lofty Nadjamerrek OAM established the Manwurrk Rangers at Kabulwarnamyo - a forerunner of the company today known as Warddeken Land Management Limited (WLML). This ranger program pioneered Australia’s first carbon abatement project, allowing Traditional Owners to live and work on their country.
For some years, rangers and Traditional Owners lobbied for fulltime education to be delivered on country, so they would not have to make the difficult decision to either leave their homelands or send their children away to live with family in larger towns to access schooling. 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 first Nawarddeken Academy campus was established at Kabulwarnamyo, providing bi-cultural 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.
After a number of years growth and consolidation, in 2017 Nawarddeken Academy Limited (NAL) was registered as a wholly owned subsidiary of WLML and a Board of Directors was established.
Seeing the success at Kabulwarnamyo, rangers and Traditional Owners from Manmoyi and Mamardawerre requested that Nawarddeken Academy campuses be established at their homeland communities, so that their children would also be able to access fulltime education. This request for help resulted in the NAL board resolving to support Manmoyi and Mamardawerre on their journey to independence.
With much hard work and dedication, Kabulwarnamyo Nawarddeken Academy formally gained Independent School Registration in January 2019. Manmoyi and Mamardawerre Nawarddeken Academy campuses followed, with both gaining Independent School Registration in late 2021.
Registration has brought recurrent government funding that secures the financial future of the Academy and, more importantly, provides the children of west Arnhem Land with the education they so rightly deserve. Each Nawarddeken Academy campus now operates with two permanent qualified teachers; up to four casual Indigenous teaching assistants who, amongst other roles, deliver the Indigenous Language and Culture (ILC) component of the curriculum; and up to 20 students.
Thanks to Nawarddeken Academy, 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 Bininj Nawarddeken depends on our children learning to live, work, and thrive within two knowledge systems. By equipping kids with the knowledge and skills to do so, Nawarddeken Academy are ensuring that the future of west Arnhem Land is strong.