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From opportunity to empowerment—Megan Wilkin and her family

Megan Wilkin is a young Indigenous mother and

member of Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Her life took a series of upward turns after she asked

Sean Gordon for a reference for social housing.

Instead, he urged her to apply for Darkinjung’s

affordable housing program. Megan was ‘shaking’

with nerves when she applied, but before long the

family had moved from a cramped home causing

financial stress, to a four-bedroom house with a big

backyard that cost substantially less.

Through Darkinjung, the family was notified about

Darkinjung Barker. Megan wasn’t sure:

I just thought it was an old boys’ school and

we nearly didn’t do it. I um’ed and ah’ed but

in the end I thought, ‘What’s the worst that

can happen?’

All three of Megan’s children enrolled. Now the

Darkinjung Barker bus picks them up and drops them

home every school day. Benefiting from small class

sizes and dedicated teaching resources, they are all

improving in their subjects, and are loving school.

The school identified that Megan’s eldest son had

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),

which his previous school had missed, and a bespoke

learning program was developed. This is paying off;

he recently won ‘Writer of the Week’ for writing two

full pages. For Megan, a mother who had seen him

‘falling through the cracks’ at his previous school,

‘that was a big win, a day to treasure’. She was proud

on Superheroes Day when he dressed as a doctor, his

new ambition.

Culture plays an important role in the curriculum at

Darkinjung Barker, ‘where children learn to celebrate

their aboriginality’

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This impacted Megan too:

When the kids come home and tell me things

about our heritage and culture, it makes me

proud to be part of that, and proud to know

they’re learning stuff I was never able to.

Darkinjung Barker aims to include parents and

community members in school life and both Megan

and her husband Shane enjoy volunteering. Shane

aims to train as a teacher’s aide and complete his

placement at the school. Megan’s confidence grew

and after 10 years raising children she considered

work options. She joined the Commonwealth

Bank Indigenous traineeship scheme that Sean’s

partnership had initiated, completed the traineeship,

then used her new-found skills and confidence to

successfully apply for the finance officer role at

Darkinjung. As Megan says, ‘It’s all fallen into place!’

Megan hopes most students will be eligible for

a scholarship to Barker College in the future. She

is amazed:

I don’t think people realise the enormity of what’s

happening. There’s only 28 kids but what it’s

doing is life-changing. Not only for the kids, for

the families as well.

From a simple trigger—Sean’s advice, backed by real

opportunities he forged through collaborations—a

whole family is transforming. Megan says:

You don’t realise what you’re capable of until

you’re given the chance to be capable. I look back

and think of certain people who didn’t believe in

me. And I think, if only you could see me now.

Megan Wilkin and family.

Photo: Frederic Courbet