Western Australian Aboriginal young women and community representatives identify barriers to school attendance and solutions to school non-attendance


  • Rose Whitau Shooting Stars, Glass Jar Australia Ltd.
  • Latoya Bolton-Black Shooting Stars, Glass Jar Australia Ltd.
  • Helen Ockerby Garnduwa Amboorny Wirnan
  • Lowana Corley Shooting Stars, Glass Jar Australia Ltd.




Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, school attendance, yarning circles, Indigenous methods, student voice


The barriers to school attendance that affect young Aboriginal people in Australia are diverse, immense and well documented; however, except for a handful of studies, Aboriginal students’ voices receive no platform for policy makers to hear them. In this paper, we present results from yarning circles about barriers to school attendance conducted with young Aboriginal women that participate in an education engagement program called Shooting Stars at Narrogin Senior High School. Yarning circles were facilitated, analysed and discussed within a framework of relatedness, with the researchers embracing their own standpoint, and the standpoint of the Shooting Stars participants, as Indigenous women. The results from these participant yarning circles were discussed with the Shooting Stars Narrogin localised steering committee, and this discussion is presented here, alongside the outcomes, both achieved and projected, to which committee stakeholders have committed. For the most part, the participants and the steering committee discussed racism, teacher–student relationships, and peer connectedness, and how these were related to participant attendance and engagement at school. This paper showcases the power of the yarning circle as a tool for collaboration in that it provides a space to create cohesion through conversation, through contention and through sharing.


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Author Biographies

Rose Whitau, Shooting Stars, Glass Jar Australia Ltd.

Rose Whitau is a New Zealand Māori (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Waitaha) and Pākehā (New Zealand European) woman. Rose was the Regional Manager for the Shooting Stars program in the Mid West, Gascoyne and Goldfields regions from 2016 to 2018 and has been the Shooting Stars Research Manager since October 2019.

Latoya Bolton-Black, Shooting Stars, Glass Jar Australia Ltd.

Latoya Bolton-Black is a Nyoongar, Yamatji woman and was the Program Coordinator at Narrogin Senior High School from 2018 to 2019 and Regional Manager for Greater Western Australia from 2019 to 2021. She is currently the Shooting Stars Operations Manager.

Helen Ockerby, Garnduwa Amboorny Wirnan

Helen Ockerby is a Bardi-Jawi, Nyoongar woman and was the Regional Manager of the Kimberley region and worked for the Shooting Stars program from January 2016 until January 2020. She is now a Director of Glass Jar Australia and West Australian Country Football League.

Lowana Corley, Shooting Stars, Glass Jar Australia Ltd.

Lowana Corley is from the Kungarakan, Paperbark Peoples, Finniss River Northern Territory and has over 20 years’ experience working in various roles for Western Australia’s Department of Education. She was the Curriculum Development Coordinator for the Shooting Stars program from 2019 to 2020. Since 2021, she has managed the Shooting Stars program across various regions including the Mid West, Gascoyne, Goldfields, and Perth metro. Lowana is now the Regional Manager of Greater Western Australia.


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How to Cite

Whitau, R., Bolton-Black, L., Ockerby, H., & Corley, L. (2022). Western Australian Aboriginal young women and community representatives identify barriers to school attendance and solutions to school non-attendance. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 51(2). https://doi.org/10.55146/ajie.v51i2.22