Yep, to SHEP!!! Our latest partnership in the Northern Territory has seen an exciting re-launch of Yirrkala Homeland Schools’ Secondary Homelands Education Program (SHEP).

You will travel two to four hours down a red, dirt road to reach a Homeland. Or, if you’re a teacher at Yirrkala Homeland Schools you will fly into a Homeland community on a light aircraft.

So yes, it’s remote. And that means it can be a little more challenging to deliver a quality education to children in Homeland communities.

Garrthalala is one such Homeland, and their story is nothing but inspiring! It’s in a central location for other Homelands to access, it already has classroom space available and a highly supportive and passionate community and Elders.

In 2004, Yirrkala Homeland Schools commenced a trial on-site for students to come and access secondary education at Garrthalala which they called SHEP.

Although SHEP ran very successfully for several years, the program ceased in 2015 due to lack of funding.

However, after consulting with several North-East Arnhem Land Homeland communities in 2018, people were clear about the need to deliver senior secondary programs in Homelands, and also a strong desire not to send their children to larger townships or centres for boarding.

This year, Yirrkala Homeland Schools has re-commenced the SHEP Program which is geared at Year 10-12 students and also Vocational Education Training (VET) courses.

It’s a huge win for the community, and staff, students and families are excited at the prospects of reinvigorating this program.

“Education is the most important thing in the world, to help our community and people. Through SHEP (Secondary Homelands Education Program), I will be able to get my Year 12 Certificate in the Homelands without having to leave my family and community” says 16-year old Gurrumuru Homeland Student, Gapaya Munuŋgurr.

As one of just six students in Gurrumuru Homeland, the SHEP program has given Gapaya the opportunity to access education with his peers at Garrthalala Homeland.

“In the future, my aim is to go to University to be a fully qualified school teacher. Then I can come back and teach in the Homelands,” continues Gapaya.
That’s the next step. To ensure that students such as Gapaya have access to pathways that allow them to fulfil their dreams, and contribute back to their communities.

What is a Homeland?

A Homeland is a remote community, where small populations of Yolngu live after having reclaimed their land during the 1970’s Homelands Movement. In doing so, Yolngu people maintain their strong connection to their ancestral lands and culture.

To find out more about our work in Yirrkala visit the project page



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