ON remote properties, women often fill the combined role of mother, teacher and friend to their children along with juggling the daily demands of station and community life.
Education in isolated areas is as rewarding as it is challenging for children and parents but at times the circumstances can be difficult with little relief for many mothers who are also partners in the daily running of properties.
To address the need for assistance for outback families a scheme was developed about 13 years ago called the Retired Educator Volunteers for Isolated Students Education WA (REVISE) under the umbrella of the Isolated Children's Parents' Association (ICPA).
Under the REVISE scheme a retired teacher spends four to six weeks on a station supervising the children's schoolwork, allowing the mother to attend to other tasks.
Since then an average of 30 REVISE teachers have been placed annually, giving a helping hand to isolated families throughout the state.
During busy periods including shearing and mustering REVISE teachers step in and help supervise the children's daily lessons.
REVISE tutors bring with them different outlooks, values, methods and ideas and many have skills and interests that they share with children and parents.
According to REVISE coordinator Denis Wakefield tutors often bring a fresh approach to education and give parents and children a break from the routine as well as helping to get children's schoolwork up to date if required.
"The REVISE program has been well received from the Kimberley to Esperance in both pastoral and mining regions where tutors have been placed," Mr Wakefield said.
"Parents are always grateful for the support and isolated children enjoy the extended input from the tutors who become part of their family during their stay.
"For the tutors, the experience proves to be a wonderful adventure and lasting friendships are made with both parents and children.
"Children also benefit from a new teacher/supervisor who brings a different view to learning and there is someone else to share the every day activities with."
Cindy Parsons from Coolawanyah station north of Tom Price in the Pilbara has had REVISE teachers on three different occasions and said the system was a wonderful service for home tutors in the bush.
"We had tutors during cattle mustering which was a great help and allowed me to attend to other jobs while the tutors supervised the school work," Mrs Parsons said.
"The REVISE tutors that stayed with us were all really experienced and I found I picked up some helpful things from them.
"It was good to know that the children wouldn't get behind with their schoolwork during a busy time of the year."
REVISE organises and pays the tutor's transport to the properties and parents are required to provide suitable accommodation and are asked to make a voluntary contribution towards costs.
Every year REVISE conducts a seminar to explain the tutoring system to interested people and to provide an opportunity for discussion between experienced tutors and potential tutors.
This year's seminar is on Tuesday, March 1 starting at 9.30am at the School of Isolated and Distance Education, on 164-194 Oxford Street at the corner of Oxford and Vincent Streets, Leederville.
p Anyone interested in helping fulfil a real need in the outback and enjoy a bush adventure should ring Denis Wakefield on 9341 2956 or Maxine Parsons on 9576 1355.