August 8, 2013
by Marcus Priaulx
Well-known South Burnett educator Eric Law says three groups have to work together to make a successful school … the students, parents and staff.
“If one of those three isn’t coming up to the mark, it adds pressure on the other two,” he said.
“It makes it hard for our children to reach their potential.”
Mr Law – who has advised State and Federal governments – has just retired from his formal role at St Joseph’s School in Murgon after 40 years of service to education, which includes becoming one of Queensland’s first Indigenous teachers, a school principal, a TAFE faculty director and former adviser to then-Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bob Katter and Federal ministers Susan Ryan and John Dawkins.
He has won awards and accolades and believes there are wonderful opportunities for young Indigenous people today.
But he also believes Indigenous parents should be immensely proud if their children complete Year 12, not matter what their marks are.
“I know what sort of battles they’ve had to get to that point,” Mr Law said.
Children from isolated communities with English as a second language often have to leave home to board at a school where the culture and values are different.
Mr Law believes Aboriginal and Islander parents want the same life outcomes for their children and doesn’t accept the idea of parents not supporting their children’s education if they had a hard time at school themselves.
“We need more parent support,” Mr Law said.
“Parents have to be involved.
“I tell them they have learned a lot through life and have a lot to offer their children. With parent support, there’s nothing our kids can’t do.”
Mr Law was raised in Cherbourg with 11 brothers and sisters.
Eight of the children became teachers and went on to live productive lives; as have his own children, nephews, nieces and grandchildren.
But none, he said, would have been able to do so without the start and support his parents gave him and his siblings as they were growing up.
“At the end of the day, we all owe the great lives we’ve lived to them,” he said.
“They supported us in all that we did and always told us going to school was the building block to our having a great future.
“I believe, all parents can do the same.”
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