A role model for future generations
15 March 2021 at 4:35 pm
Garrwa woman Deandra McDinny is an educator with Indi Kindi, an early years program helping to close the Indigenous education gap and providing jobs in remote Aboriginal communities. She’s this week’s Changemaker.
In the remote Aboriginal communities of Borroloola and Robinson River in the Northern Territory, the unemployment rate is 50 per cent.
Four years ago, Deandra McDinny, was part of that statistic. But after being introduced to Indi Kindi, an early education program delivered by local women for kids under the age of five, she saw a way to not only find a job, but to be a role model in her community.
Delivered by the Moriarty Foundation, Indi Kindi is an early education program for children under the age of five years that started at the request of senior law women wanting to see their children educated.
Since 2012, the program has reached 80 per cent of the kids in Borroloola and Robinson River, and has seen improvements in access to health care, educational outcomes, local employment opportunities for mothers, and cultural and community benefits such as learning local languages, cultural pride and increasing time on Country.
McDinny has now been a trained educator with Indi Kindi for four years, and is viewed as a changemaker within her community, working with a team of local educators to deliver programs that give kids a good start in life and remain culturally connected with their communities.
In this week’s Changemaker, she discusses why education must be delivered by the local community, why she loves her job, and the importance of role models.
How did you first get involved with Indi Kindi?
I was one of the mums, coming to Indi Kindi with my son. A couple of years later, I was wanting to do something with my life in the community and be somebody, and become a role model [for] my kids and so I went for a job as an educator at Indi Kindi, and I’ve been here for four years now. I left school when I was in year 10 and so this is a big deal for me.
And how has your life changed since working with Indi Kindi?
My life has changed so much. I’ve become someone that makes me proud. It makes me proud to come to work every day, to drive the bus around and see smiles on kids faces. It makes me really proud because the kids know they’ve got to learn something today.
What difference do you think your work is making in your community?
It’s a big change. There are kids who wait for us everyday and are really excited to go to Indi Kindi. They feel safe, they feel loved and confident, and it makes us feel like real heroes for them. Coming to work at Indi Kindi is a big privilege to be an Aboriginal role model and a community educator.
Are there things that you find hard about your work?
I find it a bit hard because I have a nine-year-old boy to look after. But I get help from the other staff and because they are family members, they help me take care of my son, and I feel really supported by them. Sometimes we have days, but we are a team and so we are there for each other.
What do you love most about your job?
Seeing the smiles on the kids faces. They are so happy and jumping around, it makes me feel proud. I also love seeing how it makes the parents feel because they know their kids are going to get fed and looked after and they are going to learn something.
How important is it that your kids are taught by women from your local community?
I think it’s very important to have Aboriginal educators looking after and teaching Aboriginal kids, because the educators know the kids’ learning styles, and they have a connection to the kids. We also speak their language and we know how to speak to them in the right way.
Do you have any advice for other educators?
It’s important to be strong in your community and to follow your dreams and be proud of yourselves. My mum was a really good role model in my life and in my community, and I was so lucky to have that around me. It really made me want to be like that for my community.