Her smile was a welcome sight at the end of a 2.5 hour flight in a small plane over some of the most remote country in Queensland.
Doomadgee State School principal Beth Everill met the small North Queensland Toyota Cowboys travelling party at the township's airport, having promised some special visitors for her students on their first day back for Term 3.
On board were Cowboys ambassadors and former players Matthew Bowen and Antonio Winterstein, surprise guests for the school launch of the Try for 5! attendance challenge with the support of the Queensland Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors.
Doomadgee is one of the most far-flung communities in Cowboys country, located 100km west of Burketown and almost 1,000km south-west of Cairns, with a population of around 1,500 residents, predominantly made up of Gangalidda, Garrawa and Waanyi first peoples of Australia.
Principal Beth's domain comprises Pre-Prep to Year 10, with 336 students enrolled – on arrival, it's clear that the school's values (“The Doomadgee Way”) are a strong part of their culture.
This first Try for 5! visit is all about introductions – for students, staff, parents and guardians, and for the Cowboys team – and it's a day spent in classrooms, on the touch field and sharing an afternoon BBQ before the visitors depart.
Over two years of funding, the program will address short and long-term impacts of students missing foundation learning in their primary years through poor school attendance.
The Cowboys and Doomadgee State School will work closely together to motivate and reward classes for their attendance, with term visits from club ambassadors, regular video updates and Cowboys prizes.
Doomadgee joins the Try for 5! family of 22 Queensland schools and government and corporate partners comprised of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors, LGIAsuper, Adani, M&J Chickens, Rio Tinto and Regional Express.
It's a program built on trust, collaboration and understanding, with one common goal – to remove school attendance as a barrier to academic outcomes and a cause of social, health and financial disadvantage.