KindiLink Narrogin’s Basil Kickett named as AIEO of the year in WA Education Awards
Narrogin Noongar Elder Basil Kickett, an integral part of the KindiLink program offered at Narrogin Primary School, has been honoured as the WA Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer (AIEO) of the Year in the WA Education Awards.
‘Pop Basil’, as he is known to the community, works in the KindiLink, Kindergarten and Pre-Primary classes each week. Ensuring that children feel a sense of belonging, and feel safe at school, drives the work he does each day.
“I want to be a part of having Indigenous perspectives embedded into every classroom and that Indigenous children see themselves represented and culture recognised.”
Described as a kind, calm and humble “gentle giant”, Pop Basil’s presence and invaluable contribution to Narrogin Primary School over the past 17 years has built an inclusive curriculum across all learning areas, using his knowledge of Noongar culture and language and the history of his own family.
This includes the production of the children’s book “When Pop was a Boy”, with student illustrations, and a Noongar language YouTube video “Echidna Finds a Friend” that has been shared by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
These stemmed from Pop Basil regularly playing the role of “Grandfather” during classroom history activities, with students marvelling at his amazing experiences growing up in Narrogin including the horse and cart he had used for transport.
“We made the stories about my life into a book and people are wanting to read it and learn what it was like for some of us growing up Noongar in the Wheatbelt,” he says.
“Through the book, I want the kids to remember that I care about them and hope they will always feel that I will be there to help and support them.”
Born and educated in Narrogin, Pop Basil worked on the railways, pursued an opportunity to play with West Perth Football Club and worked for QANTAS for 23 years before stepping in and taking on the role as WA Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer.
His support of local students has also taken him far beyond the classroom. He “hits the street” at kindergarten enrolment time each year, working with the school administration team to ensure all young Aboriginal children are correctly enrolled for the following year, to avoid any missed days at school.
“They inspire me – seeing them go from kindy and all through school, watching them learn and grow,” he shared. “The happiness on kids’ faces when they shout out at the top of their voices in the middle of the supermarket, ‘Hi Pop Basil’.”
This title is high recognition of the role Pop Basil plays in the community as a Noongar Elder, and the way he has melded his cultural responsibilities with many years of work at the school as a mentor, advisor and friend to all.
At other times, Pop Basil can also be found calmly and quietly kicking the footy or throwing a boomerang with students dealing with feelings of stress.
Understanding the multi-generational trauma that can impact on students, he works collaboratively with teachers to identify risk factors for escalation and then works one-on-one with the students to ensure de-escalation at the most challenging times.
As a badged attendance officer, he supports students and families in need, often arranging transport, lunches and other necessities. He conducts home visits to ensure that incursion/excursion forms, medical forms and all other paperwork is completed, so that no Aboriginal student misses an opportunity to participate.
He also coordinates all of the Derbarl Yerrigan health appointments to conduct hearing screening for Aboriginal students. “I support them not just academically but more importantly building their confidence, self-esteem and self-worth,” he explained.
“I want them to be proud of themselves. To grow up into proud people, respecting themselves, family and others. Working to be the best they can, at whatever that may be in life.”
For information about other winners in the Awards please see here.
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