12 December 2018

School of the air chappy there for remote students

Posted in Chaplaincy

When your nearest neighbour is hours away by 4WD, your best friend might be a well-trained working kelpie, and mum and dad are weighed down by worries of drought, who can you turn to?

Thanks to friends like you, children on remote cattle properties and isolated towns have a chaplain on their side.

Chaplain Corlia has been the chappy at Mt Isa School of the Air for three years, but she wouldn’t recognise any of her students in the street.  That’s because she only sees them once or twice a year during “mini school”, activity days and sports days in Mt Isa, Julia Creek or Cloncurry.

“They are spread all over.  We even have one student in Western Australia,” Chappy Corlia said of her students, in Years 3 to 6.

“I love being a School of the Air chappy, working with these kids, because they’ve got beautiful manners and they’re so humble. They appreciate everything you do for them and they’re so involved. It’s a different environment.

“They really are amazing. They’re busy feeding their horses, doing their on-air lessons, and then they go out to do mustering and working on the station.”

But Chappy Corlia, who is also chaplain at Mt Isa Central State School and Mt Isa Special School, said the students’ remoteness obviously poses challenges.

“Because of the distance, it is harder to build those connections and relationships.  Teachers will refer students to me and we’ll do one-on-sessions at certain times,” she said.

“It’s really great just talking with the students, finding out what’s troubling them, and giving strategies on how to get through it.”

And despite the remoteness of the students, Chappy Corlia says she mostly works on anti-bullying programs with them, including Tips for Transitioning, Ready Set Grow, Fun Friends and Friends for Life.

“At this stage we’re doing an anti-bullying and transitioning program preparing them for boarding school because most of the students will go to boarding schools.

“Bullying really gets to them because they’re not used to it.”

The programs run by Chappy Corlia help students to gain an understanding of how to be resilient and to discover their self-worth.

But more than boarding school and bullying, Chappy Corlia said that students and their families were in dire straights with the drought.  

“A lot of the families struggle with drought, so please keep all these families in your prayers,” she said.

Chappy Corlia is on the other side of the radio for children on remote cattle properties because of supporters like you.  To help ensure she will always be there, donate online at suqld.org.au/donate

Jennifer Kerr

Media and Communications Administrator

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