Parents network vital for isolated families

Rueben HaleThe West Australian
Parabudoo pastoralist Robin Pensini, from Cheela Plains Station, at the Isolated Children's Parents' Association conference held at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel last week.
Camera IconParabudoo pastoralist Robin Pensini, from Cheela Plains Station, at the Isolated Children's Parents' Association conference held at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel last week. Credit: Countryman

Paraburdoo pastoralist Robin Pensini said without the friendships fostered through her involvement with the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association, she does not know how she would have survived tutoring four boys on her own.

Mrs Pensini, who runs Cheela Plains Station with husband Evan, told of home- schooling her children on the family’s remote property, at the ICPA conference at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel last week.

She said hers was just one of many isolated families around Australia who face similar issues educating their children and lobbying government to help towards the cost of home schooling and boarding in later years.

“My sons, who continue to inspire me, are the reason for my involvement in ICPA,” she said.

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The Pensini boys have gone on to be high achievers away from the station, after being educated throughout their primary years by their mother and by remotely run classes operated by Port Hedland School of the Air.

Youngest child Preston is the last of the boys still doing home schooling, with the elder twins, Gavin and Fraser, both studying at university since graduating as recognised high achievers from Guildford Grammar School.

Middle son Lawson, who is studying at Guildford Grammar, seems to also be carrying on the family tradition after being appointed vice-captain of the school, among other leadership roles.

Mrs Pensini said after schooling Preston with the extra challenge of his dyslexia condition, she looked forward sending him to boarding school next year.

“He has grown up in a very adult world and is quite comfortable giving orders to whoever will take them from him and is in the know of just about everything that’s going on around the station,” she said

“I will miss him dearly next year, but look forward to him having the chance to meet and interact with students his age on a daily basis and just be a kid.”

Mrs Pensini, who hailed from Texas before moving to the Pilbara in 1994, said after tutoring her boys through primary school in remote station country, she now has the “red dust under her skin”.

“I moved away from family and friends to join the love of my life, Evan, on Wyloo Station 23 years ago,” she said.

“And while I’m not officially an Australian citizen, I feel as though surviving the extremely adverse climatic conditions of the Pilbara, both physically and emotionally, and raising and tutoring the boys through primary school, is proof that I have earned the right to call myself an Aussie.”

Mrs Pensini said her focus on education and raising her children and her involvement with other parents through ICPA made time go by quickly.

“The challenges of educating children in the bush — especially in our situation where business, family and education are all rolled into one — is where the true value of organisations like the ICPA are worth so much to home tutors and teaching mums,” she said.

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