“Going to boarding school has opened doors and allowed my children to follow their passions.”

Tamara is the Mother of AIEF Scholars Jacquin (2020), Ella (2023) and Luca (The Cathedral School)


My name is Tamara. I am a proud Palawa woman with connections to Tasmania, and across the Torres Strait, with our family currently living on Thursday Island.

I am the proud mother of five children – AIEF Alumni, Jacquin and Ella, and current AIEF Scholarship Student Luca. The younger two are eager to follow in the footsteps of their siblings when they’re older.

I work as an early childhood teacher, ensuring that all the young children across the Torres Strait have the best foundational education programs. I believe I have instilled in my children the value of education and how it’s crucial to opening doors and accessing opportunities to build a successful life.

Given the limited options available at home, a lot of the young people from Thursday Island go to boarding school. Our journey began with my oldest son Jacquin going to boarding school at The Cathedral School in Townsville. With all my kids, they have great pride in going to this amazing school.

My kids have always talked about when, not if, they’re going to boarding school. When it came time for my daughter Ella to go to boarding school, Jacquin had paved the path for her to follow. He gave her the motivation, the expectation, and the inspiration.

We specifically chose The Cathedral School because it’s co-educational; we wanted our children to be together. Whenever Ella needed support, Jacquin was by her side. When Luca joined Ella, she became that support for him. My children have grown into these incredible young people and make our family so proud.

We wanted opportunity for our children. My husband and I never could have afforded to send them to boarding school without help and support from AIEF. Whatever it was that our children wanted to do, whether it was building their careers or following their dreams in sport or music, going to boarding school has opened the doors to one thing after another.

Taking care of people has always been in my daughter Ella’s nature. She’s always been very hands on with the kids and babies. Even as a little girl, Ella dreamed of becoming a registered nurse and midwife and being able to work in her community. Attending The Cathedral School with the support of AIEF meant she was able to take steps to make that dream a reality.

Going to school in a regional city meant Ella had the opportunity to go to TAFE. She was able to work with her AIEF Pathways Advisor to map out a plan and, supported by the school, she was able to achieve her Cert II in Health Supportive Services. In Year 12, she completed her Cert III in an Assistant in Nursing qualification and to work as an AIN. This year, Ella is undertaking her Diploma in Nursing while working back in community at Thursday Island Hospital.

I remember how Ella would come home during the holidays and complete her practical work for TAFE. She was so driven and determined to learn. She had witnessed firsthand the disadvantage that pregnant women face in our community. They often get sent away to give birth away from country and community. Ella knows their journey; she knows their disadvantage and she knows that her knowledge puts her in a privileged position to support these women back on the island.

When I helped my children apply for their scholarships, I had no idea the impact it would have on our family. Ella described it to me as a ripple effect – the education she and her brothers received will never end. It began with her older brother, passed on her, and now sits with her younger siblings. They can now make sure that their education never stops affecting our family and our community for the better.

My younger son is excited to go to boarding school when he’s old enough. Watching his siblings go to boarding school and seeing them achieve great things, whether it’s going on a footy tour, or Ella going to TAFE, means that my older children are an inspiration for him too. I feel very lucky to have children who can now be role models to other young people in our community.

I can’t express how grateful we are for the support of AIEF and how thankful we are for the AIEF donor community who made that possible for our family. Reciprocity is a big thing in our culture. In their own time, every single one of these AIEF graduates is going to give back in ways that you can’t measure yet. Trust that once the doors open that these kids will do the rest.

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