Despite leaving school at 16, Derby teen mother Kiona Nulgit’s future seems bright, because her dreams of both caring for her 10- month-old daughter Willisha Nulgit and pursuing a career both have a place to unfold.
Derby District High School recently opened its new Young Mum’s Community House – a newly refurbished cottage and a drug and alcohol-free haven for teenage mothers and their babies.
There they can engage in a parallel learning program, providing individual learning programs for mothers and supervised playgroup for their babies.
The school’s early-years coordinator Liz Richie has been with the project over the two-year development process.
“What makes this program unique, is the mums are able to bring their children with them whilst they participate in employment- related education programs,” she said.
“This is not a day-care centre. “The mums want their children with them while they undertake their studies and the children are able to access school-readiness programs at the same time.”
Mrs Richie said the house was a “central hub” for young parents to access services and support they needed to meet their health and educational challenges. Agencies involved include Ngunga Women’s Group who provide the playgroup, Hawk Now who run weekly cooking classes, and Kimberley Training Institute which provides continued education.
School principal Paul Bridge believes interagency collaboration and time added to the project’s success, and so to a deeper engagement with Derby’s young mothers.
Mr Bridge said the house’s philosophy was clear.
“The young mums need to be part of the decision-making process on how the community house will run and the types of education and early-years programs that they will run,” he said.
The Ashley Street community house is open every day during the school term.