The West

Outback scholars set for PLC
Bailey Duncan, 12, left, Taylah Verbruggen, 13, Kristen Smith, 13, Siahn Ejai, 13, and Leilani Minniecon, 13. Picture: by Bill Hatto/The West Australian

Fiona Smith is used to seeing daughter Kristen in a backwards cap, basketball singlet and shorts thanks to the influence of three brothers.

But the 13-year-old has swapped this uniform for a skirt, blouse and school hat after leaving the Kimberley for a scholarship at Presbyterian Ladies' College.

The Halls Creek teen is one of five Aboriginal students selected for the school's annual Gorna Liyarn scholarships, which translates to strong in heart or spirit.

Kristen, Bailey Duncan, Siahn Ejai, Leilani Minnecon and Taylah Verbruggen farewelled their families yesterday as they moved into the PLC boarding house.

"I'm excited but nervous at the same time, it's a big school," said Kristen, who plans to be an engineer or a marine biologist.

Mrs Smith said she would miss her daughter but was thrilled to see her get such an opportunity.

"It's a big culture shock for her, but she's on the path that I want her to go on," she said.

For Bailey, 12, the 1200-strong school population is a far cry from the tiny community of Doon Doon Station, near Kununurra.

"I hope she gets well educated here and then comes back and tells the other kids," her mother Lucilla Martin said.

Taylah's mother Kelly Dodd said the girls bonded quickly after meeting for the first time last week. "From the moment they met they all got on really well," she said.

"Saying goodbye is definitely emotional, it's terrifying, but you're prepared to sacrifice all that for the chance of them having a better education."

PLC's indigenous policy co-ordinator Tracey Walker said the girls would join another 20 scholarship recipients, who would become their "big sisters".

"They share their culture with the school and add a real depth to our school," Ms Walker said.

"They raise awareness of indigenous issues and they get the whole new experience of life at a school like this and life in the city."

The West Australian

Popular videos