Remote Kimberley educator awarded Public Service Medal

Asset Publisher

10 June 2024

Reward and recognition

An Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer (AIEO) from a remote Kimberley school has received a Public Service Medal for being a system-wide voice and advocate for Ngarinyin culture.

Wananami Remote Community School AIEO Deborah Donation was awarded the distinguished medal by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) as part of The King's Birthday 2024 Honours List.

At Wananami Remote Community School, Ms Donation leads a culturally responsive curriculum to ensure Aboriginal ways of knowing, being, and doing are continually encouraged.

Ms Donation implemented the school’s two-way science program which involved building partnerships with the local Aboriginal community to develop integrated culturally responsive learning initiatives that connect the Western Australian Curriculum Science to Aboriginal knowledges.

She also partners with families, communities, and other agencies to support the educational engagement of every student and create collaborative opportunities at Wananami.

Her dedication to ensuring her students have access to a high-class education is unwavering. Not only does Ms Donation provide students with opportunities to access a strong ‘Western-style’ education, but she embeds Indigenous knowledges and integrates opportunities for on-Country learning within the school setting. 

Ms Donation’s service has made it possible for student cultural identity, wellbeing, and engagement to be at the centre of learning experiences.

In addition to supporting the education of students at Wananami, Ms Donation is also instrumental in raising awareness of the need to maintain and promote endangered languages and cultures across public education in WA.

Her system-wide advocacy builds capacity throughout the department. Ms Donation has advised on Aboriginal teaching and learning policies and professional learning programs to ensure educators are equipped to teach in a culturally responsive way.

Ms Donation said she felt proud and surprised by the special award.

"It feels awesome that the work we are doing in our community is being recognised across Australia. I feel proud that I am able to pass on my knowledge to my young people who are our future leaders," she said.

"It is a nice reminder that what we are doing is important and valued by others outside of our community."

Ms Donation joins Education Director General Lisa Rodgers in being awarded a Public Service Medal as part of The King's Birthday 2024 Honours List. The medal recognises outstanding service by federal, state, and local government employees.

Earlier this year, Ms Donation was a finalist in the Department of Education’s Women of Achievement Award.