Archived News Item

Kindness & Mercy: Gowola Homework Club, Shepparton Vic

Mercy Access Staff Back: Janelle Atkinson, Jamie Atkinson, Julie Ferguson Front sitting: Agnes Murphy RSM and Shirley Garland RSM


There is furious writing, the of sounds paper ripping and the occasional chair shuffle at a recent Gowola Homework Club. But it wasn’t long ago that the question ‘how to increase the number of aboriginal children completing secondary school?’ was challenging two Koorie Educators, Julie Ferguson and Janelle Atkinson, in the Sandhurst Diocese of Victoria.


From building interest and numbers, the club now has regulars that put homework and learning above the enticing summer afternoons that could be spent outside. Doing homework and in the process having fun along with the encouragement and assistance of the committed volunteers are the key ingredients to the success that this Homework Club has experienced in its 2-year existence.


Julie and Janelle have been instrumental in the set up and continued success of this initiative, which has now become an integral part of the Mercy Access Program in Shepparton, a program run by Mercy Works. They are both proud Yorta Yorta women and their experience as Koorie Educators in Catholic Schools has motivated them to build on their shared passion for education.


The word ‘Gowola’ means kindness or mercy in the Yorta Yorta language and it perfectly describes the underpinning values of this club and how it’s run. The distinct family orientated atmosphere is highlighted by the fact that both Julie and Janelle’s children attend this homework club and help to foster a welcoming environment for both regulars and newcomers.


This initiative would not be possible without committed Mercy Access volunteers and the dedication and direction from Julie and Janelle. Their incredible partnership and shared heritage has allowed them to give the gift of education to more Aboriginal children of Shepparton. Developing the next generation through the power of learning is an amazing achievement. All of these children now have the tools and opportunities to finish their education.


Messages to: Mercy Works