Indy the Reading Dog was introduced into the primary classes at Coober Pedy Area School by Principal Karen Cornelius as a novel way for the younger students to share their reading

$374,476 jointly funded by the Coalition Government’s and South Australian Government Indigenous Advancement Strategy will help establish an Alternative Learning Program at Coober Pedy Area School.

Announcing the funding Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said he is pleased up to 70 students at the Coober Pedy Area School will be supported to complete their studies.

“This is a great initiative and will provide extra support for students who have become disengaged from school to make the transition back and hopefully complete their education,” he said.

The proposal will aim to provide disengaged student support that will supplement the Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) in Coober Pedy. This will include individual student support for complex social-emotional and behavioural issues and ‘wrap around ‘student support services through the development of a ‘central hub’.

Students from the Middle Years 6-9 will be supported through the proposal, as students within this cohort are particularly vulnerable and at risk in terms of wellbeing and student engagement. During this period, young people experience important cognitive, social, and emotional changes that establish their identity and set the stage for development into adolescence and adulthood.

The proposal will specifically target students from the Middle Years who have been identified as showing some form of engagement with the school, however have sporadic or low attendance, or have been identified at risk of becoming severely disengaged due to complex issues including social-emotional and behavioural problems.

The focus of the proposal will be to increase school attendance and completion rates by providing support for social-emotional and behavioural issues, offering a positive learning environment for alternative pathways within the school with additional support for literacy and numeracy, with the aim of re-integrating students into mainstream classrooms, where appropriate, or supporting other career pathways.

Coober Pedy Area School Principal Ms Karen Cornelius said, “The funding will provide a dedicated secondary learning support area and a social worker/youth worker position to address social and emotional issues as they arise in classrooms and link to in-school and outside agencies in the community.”


A small group of students have quality reading time with Principal Karen Cornelius as efforts are made to ensure that their school experience is a successful one.

“We are excited about the changes ahead for Coober Pedy Area School, starting in 2018, and see this project as an invaluable contribution to addressing equity, access and achievement gaps for students in Years 6 to 9,” said the Principal.

“We will be recruiting for the new position before school returns.”

“We are closely monitoring the progress of all of our students, and see this as an opportunity respond to our data and to intervene in the trajectories of some of our older students,” concluded Ms Cornelius

Mr. Ramsey added, “In many cases students who re-enter the education system and find themselves out of step with their peers can be disruptive and adversely affect all students”, he said.

“This centre will ensure a qualified caseworker can support students and their families, as well as provide one-off infrastructure funding to develop a central hub for students and support staff.”

“It will offer tailored literacy and numeracy support and individualised learning support to help students to catch up to regular class and it will go a long way to supporting teachers at Coober Pedy Area School to continue to deliver high quality education, said Mr. Ramsey.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion has joined Mr Ramsey to commend the school on this initiative and its passion to engage with students at risk of not attending or completing school.

“A good education is critical to any young person’s future, which is why this government continues to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to complete their schooling,” Minister Scullion said.

“All levels of government must work together with schools, communities, families, parents and students if we are to close the gap in attendance. Projects like this demonstrate what we can achieve when we all work together to help students in remote communities fulfil their potential”.