Donation inspiring in a remote community

Asset Publisher

11 March 2024

Reward and recognition

For nearly 30 years, Deborah Donation has been a leader in her community. She is passionate about providing opportunities for students at Wananami Remote Community School. 

Wananami is located in WA’s spectacular Kimberley region, about 500km north of Broome. It services three communities: Imintji, Kupungarri and Dodnun, all found along the iconic Gibb River Road. 

Deborah Donation from Wananami Remote Community School.

Students travel from Imintji and Dodnun by bus for up to an hour each way, to and from school. 

As an Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer (AIEO) and cultural adviser, Deborah has implemented and led a culturally responsive curriculum at the school. 

This includes crafting and implementing a curriculum that utilises the incredible knowledge of the Indigenous members of the community and builds on the strengths of its Ngarinyin students. 

Deborah’s passion for education and the impact that she has in the community has earned her a place as one of the five finalists in the 2024 Women of Achievement Award.  

Deborah was nominated by her Principal, Nikki Sandilands, at Wananami Remote Community School.  

In her nomination, Nikki praised the way Deborah inspires those around her to build genuine and respectful relationships between school staff, students and their communities. 

“She commands high expectations of our teachers, but nurtures their development, and provides incredible opportunities of cultural awareness and truth telling, building teacher knowledge, capacity and practice,” she said. 

“Deborah is a staunch advocate for Indigenous children having access to a high-class education, which not only provides students with the opportunities to access a strong ‘Western-style’ education, but to embed Indigenous knowledges and integrate opportunities for on-Country learning, within the school setting.  

 “Deborah has also led Wananami Remote Community School’s inclusion of the Two-Way Science program, which has utilised the traditional Indigenous knowledges of our Ngarinyin community, to develop a Cultural learning curriculum, embracing and celebrating Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing.” 

Deborah’s skills and knowledge are what she strives to give students and her community she said.  

“I'm passionate about passing my knowledge and skills to my younger generations,” she said.  

“I work closely with the teaching staff, AIEOs and the principal in educational decisions of the students, embedding and passing my knowledge in two worlds, Australian standard English and Ngarinyin.”  

We spoke to Deborah about her nomination for this award. Check out the video.

Learn more about the other finalists nominated for the Women of Achievement Award.  

The winner will be announced at the Department’s International Women’s Day breakfast, on Monday 18 March 2024.