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Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School transfers to Studio Schools Australia

Wesley College is delighted to announce that, effective 1 July 2022, Yiramalay will transition to Studio Schools of Australia (SSA), where it will form the basis of an extended studio schools’ program across the north of Australia.

An Exciting New Chapter

SSA is an organisation that Wesley helped establish three years ago and which has now received significant Federal funding to support an expanded network of studio schools in WA and in other states and territories. Led by former Wesley College Principal, Dr Helen Drennen AM, SSA will model the studio schools on the success of Yiramalay (a partnership model) with an ambition to provide more Indigenous students the opportunity to access this unique and transformative education.

This is an important and exciting milestone - for Yiramalay, the Bunuba community and the SSA. The expansion of the studio school model represents a significant step to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous education. It is an opportunity that realises the earliest aspirations and dreams of both the Wesley and Bunuba communities.

Commitment to Reconciliation

It was nearly 13 years ago that Wesley College joined with the Bunuba community of the Kimberley in Western Australia to conceive and establish a dual-site studio school. Our shared ambition was to deliver a learning experience that transcends culture and location and helps create a better Australia through respect, community-mindedness and reconciliation.  

Combining on-country learning and a continued connection to culture with academic and industry-based learning, more than 150 Aboriginal students have completed Year 12 at the Studio School. We are proud that this innovative program grew and transformed the lives of so many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Under the new SSA foundation, three new Studio Schools are proposed to be established over the next three years, which will be supported by a dedicated Indigenous Education and Resource Centre on-country. The new schools will include: a middle school studio school at Windjana Gorge and two studio schools at Roebourne, WA and Nhulunbuy, NT.

A memorandum of understanding signed by Wesley College Melbourne, SSA and the Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation signifies the cooperation between the parties to embrace this next phase of expansion.

Continued Partnership and the Year 10 Induction Program  

Importantly, Wesley College will continue as the partner school for the Yiramalay Studio School. As such, Wesley College students in Year 10 will continue to have the unique opportunity to learn on-country on the three-week Yiramalay Induction Program, subject to Covid-related access. Yiramalay students wishing to study the VCE or IB will continue to do so at the Glen Waverley Campus.  

For Wesley College students and their families, the Yiramalay Studio School forms one aspect of the College’s commitment to reconciliation and Indigenous engagement. We will continue to explore ways in which engagement with Australia’s First People’s remains a vital part of the College and our community.  

With Immense Gratitude

Finally, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to our Bunuba partners, Indigenous elders and cultural advisors whose wisdom, vision and teachings are the cornerstone of this program. We extend our gratitude to all in the Wesley community, who have helped create and build such a transformative educational program. We offer our deepest gratitude to past and present teachers, mentors and staff, and to all the families, students, friends and alumni who have supported Yiramalay through participation in the program or through volunteering and giving. The legacy of all involved will live on through the expanded network of studio schools for the next generation of students.