From a practical perspective, the family group homes provide a welcoming base to allow Tiwi students to regularly attend the academic program of the school.
Most importantly for the young Tiwi, the people of the Family Group Home are their "family when away from family" and the couples who look after the FGH are the "parents when away from parents". We are all the "Picka Family".
Educationally, the family group homes provide a programme which introduces Tiwi students to western ways of living, home management and behaving. Houseparents have the responsibility to provide a calm, structured and friendly environment for the students to live and learn.
As the vision statement suggests – the FGH is a learning environment for life skills. Students will learn by watching and copying. It is expected that standards are set for the management of bedrooms. Students should also be included in the preparation of different meals.
The FGH staff oversee a Lifeskills program two times a week. This focuses on Horticulture and Kitchen Operations. Every student has their own garden and are responsible for the maintenance and harvesting of its produce. Parents instruct young Tiwi in the use of produce for a variety of healthy meals.
Morally, the family group homes are responsible for the care and supervision of students.. This entails providing for the physical and emotional needs of students and offering moral guidance. Tiwi College recognises that houseparents cannot take the place of parents/guardians, but recognises equally that in the absence of parents we must act in their stead. By taking the role with this in mind, the Tiwi students can gain a sense of belonging and trust; with the feeling of wanting to return. Here the program addresses the issue of student retention.
The staff and Leadership Team of Tiwi College recognise that FGH Houseparents are not teachers, yet are responsible for assisting hour's homework time after tea. This is followed by supervised recreational activities before supper of an evening.
The Tiwi Education Board also express 'Tiwi values" which are closely aligned to a Christian worldview:
• respect for country
• looking after and providing for the extended family
• a traditional responsibility of looking after visitors and friends to their country
• nurturing and loving their children
• following Traditional Law
• being friendly and welcoming.
In carrying out this philosophy, the bond between the school and parents/guardians and communities at large will be strengthened as we seek to involve them in the life of the school.