Yarning Up

Regional Economic Solutions (RES) Director and Bond University Fellow, Leann Wilson co-designed and led a delegation of Principals from some of Australia’s most progressive girls’ schools on a five-day ‘Yarning Up’ tour to the Torres Strait Islands.

“My role was to give our non-Indigenous participants a cultural context and facilitate an insight into the challenges faced by those in remote Indigenous communities,” said Leann.

“More importantly, having an Indigenous representative leading a group like this helps to broker the relationship with the community, helping the participants to engage in a deeper conversation with the people they meet.

“Because it is only by getting to that deeper conversation that we can find the way to working collaboratively to address the core issues but more importantly understanding the strengths of these communities.”

“What’s also powerful is that these Principals have such a wealth of knowledge and experience in their field and the Torres Strait Islander people are passionate about education for their children, so it becomes a really valuable two-way conversation.”

One of the most moving moments of the trip was listening to a young Murray Island mother talk about her aspirations for her daughter. “The analogy she gave was that she wanted her child to have the confidence to walk up to the Qantas counter and ask about her flight home, rather than standing at the back afraid to come forward.”

“Her story moved us to tears and collectively thought, ‘Surely we can achieve that?’”

As the program evolved over the years, Leann Wilson, who is Bond University’s inaugural Indigenous Fellow, said the combination of genders and leaders made for a powerful impact, “This broader mix of men and women, businesspeople and educators generated a noticeable change in the group dynamics, potential opportunities and communication with the community. “It was exciting to see how the focus expanded from a purely educational viewpoint to one that incorporated the entrepreneurship, business acumen and legal skills of our broader-based group.

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