While Tony Abbott ramped up his rhetoric about helping indigenous Australians this week, Sister Anna Warlow was working in rural indigenous communities, preferring action to words.
Last night, St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School, Gwynneville, held a fund-raiser at the Fraternity Club to support Sister Warlow’s work educating indigenous and other disadvantaged students in Western Australia.
Part of the Good Samaritan order, the former Wollongong nun runs a boarding school in Geraldton and relies on donations and her small stipend to support students who want to attend school.
‘‘We offer dance classes three times a week, which has significantly decreased truancy rates,’’ she said.
‘‘I remember a 10-year-old Aboriginal girl who never came to school because she had to look after her younger siblings; their mother had cancer.
‘‘Once she knew about the dance classes, she turned up to school in her pyjamas and said she really wanted to come to school – now three of the children from that family attend school.’’
Although Sister Warlow hopes the government will act on its rhetoric, she said not enough was being done on the ground.
St Brigid’s principal Jennie Werako said the nun puts everyone before herself and was the epitome of humility.
Sister Warlow’s brother, singer Anthony Warlow, has also pledged a scholarship to sponsor a student.