Inspiring Martu women achieve higher education

By donating to the Australia Program, you can support Indigenous Australians working towards change.


At a small ceremony in Jigalong, Janelle and Delvene were presented with their Certificate II in Community Services.

A long time coming, it was an emotional moment.

“It was good. I nearly cried today … I was shaking,” Delvene said. Janelle, known as “JB”, also felt justifiably proud. “I can take the certificate with me anywhere I go. If I got to another place or another community or town, if I look for work, I could take it with me,” she said.

The two women began studying with the YMCA in 2012, with financial and mentoring support from World Vision as part of our Pilbara Early Childhood Care and Development Project. Through this project they could also put what they were learning into practice at the local school and the World Vision-supported playgroup, mentoring other staff. They’re both highly motivated, but the remoteness of their town – 170km from Newman in Western Australia’s Pilbara region – meant they had limited access to teachers. Combined with the lack of computers or a library, consistent training was difficult.

Yvonne, a World Vision Project Manager who supported JB and Delvene in getting their certificates, is full of praise for them both: “It’s been a long process and they’ve both persevered a lot and been very committed amidst all the other challenges within the community: funerals, family pressures … Delvene has got three children of her own and cares for other children from time to time. JB’s got two children and supports other families and children in the community as well.”

JB now works as an Educational Assistant at the local primary school, and Delvene is currently the Playgroup Leader of the Jigalong playgroup. Through these positions, they’re able to help give young kids in Jigalong a head start with their education.

But more than that, they’re also becoming role models for other young mothers and teenagers who are interested in furthering their education.

Earning a nationally recognised qualification hasn’t only been a valuable opportunity for JB and Delvene, it’s having positive flow-on effects for the entire community.