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Inner Western Courier Thursday Not Used Anymore : November 19th 2008
MB INNER-WEST WEEKLY, Thursday, November 20, 2008 3 NEWS www.innerwestweekly.com.au Get-out-of-jail card FIONA BRADY Young Australian of the Year nominee Craig Ashby. AT the age of 15 Craig Ashby was unable to read or write and was treading a path that looked likely to end in jail. But six years later the Gamilaroi man is in the third year of a teaching degree at Sydney University and is an ardent cam- paigner for indigenous literacy. He's also one of four NSW finalists for Young Australian of the Year. Mr Ashby, who now lives in Summer Hill, said it took ''a lot of hard work'' along the way. Born in Walgett, NSW, his mother died when he was young. His grandmother brought him up with his siblings in a four- bedroom house that often housed as many as 25 people. School was way down his list of priorities, partly because his eye- sight was failing -- a problem that wasn't recognised and treated un- til he went to boarding school. ''We wagged a lot and we didn't respect teachers,'' he said of his school days. ''We got a lot of first-year-out-of- university teachers who didn't really understand how to teach indigenous kids,'' he said. When he moved into an Aborigi- nal hostel in Dubbo, he said he was ''definitely heading to jail, down the wrong track''. But when his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, she took matters into her own hands, beg- ging the local priest to send her grandson to St Joseph's in Hunters Hill. Within two weeks, Mr Ashby was enrolled at St Joseph's, started the process of turning his life around, At 21, he is now an ambassador of the Australian Indigenous Edu- cation Foundation and is helping develop programs to encourage indigenous children in remote communities to attend school. ''We need to get these kids at a young age and show them the value of education,'' he said. ''If we don't, we're going to be sitting here another 10 years talk- ing about the same things.'' As for the woman who started it all -- his grandmother -- she got her wish of seeing him enrolled in university before she died. ''She'd be very happy with my journey, how far I've come,'' he said. Mum has confidence in her ABC centre FIONA BRADY ABC LEARNING CENTRES HIT RECEIVERSHIP: An administrator has been appointed to ABC Learning Centres GUARANTEE: The Federal Govern- ment has assured centres will remain open until December 31 ASHFIELD: Licensed for 46 chil- dren HABERFIELD: Licensed for 56 children NORTH STRATHFIELD (TWO): Both licensed for 90 children CONCORD WEST: Licensed for 56 children Catherine Philpot and her daughter Sophie at the ABC Learning Centre in Haberfield. Picture: PHIL BLATCH ~PP217465 Are you worried about the future of your child's care? Tell us your story. www.innerwestweekly.com.au WORKING mum Catherine Philpot is so confident the ABC Learning Centre in Haberfield won't close that she has no contin- gency plans for her daughter Sophie's child care. ''I'm not concerned in that I haven't taken her out of there and I haven't put her name down anywhere else,'' the Haberfield mum said. ''I can't see how that centre will close because it has full occupancy and I know it's a profitable centre so I'd just be baffled if it doesn't get taken over by somebody.'' Sophie, 4, has been attending the Haberfield centre three days a week since she was one and her mum said she was very happy there. ''I want to support the place -- if people start pulling their kids out, that's not going to help the situ- ation,'' she said. ''I'm actually pregnant and I've got my next baby's name down there.'' Her optimism was echoed by Ashfield Council's general man- ager Ken Gainger who said he'd been advised that neither the Haberfield nor Ashfield centres were in any danger. ''Ashfield Council's community services department contacted ABC administration and they have advised council that regard- ing these two local centres, it was business as usual and the centres were taking enrolments and will run as usual next year,'' he said. And although the Australian Services Union this week called on local governments to buy or oper- ate the centres, Mr Gainger said Ashfield Council had not con- sidered stepping into the breach. ''If such a proposal was to be referred to the council it is likely to be rejected in the absence of substantial financial support from the Federal and State govern- ments,'' he said. Canada Bay Council, which has three ABC centres in its area, said it was ''monitoring'' the situation and was waiting on further details from the administrators and the Federal Government. ''No de- cision on our involvement has been made,'' a spokeswoman said. 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