Old Haileyburians Association

Phylisia Palipuaminni

Phylisia Palipuaminni (OH 2019) graduated from Haileybury Rendall School (HRS) and is an amazing and inspiring young lady. She is one of the first Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) graduates from HRS and is incredibly proud of being the first in her family to graduate Year 12.

During her time at Haileybury, Phylisia worked closely with Donna Clemmens, Program Coordinator from the Stars Foundation. The Stars Foundation offers high-quality, in-school mentoring and support programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls in the Northern Territory.

These dedicated and experienced full-time, onsite mentors help girls to gain the skills they need to develop resilience and support their own wellbeing, which leads to increased social connection, community participation and self-confidence.

Phylisia returned to Haileybury for the first time since graduating with a massive smile and commented that returning gave her ‘goosebumps’. It’s no surprise then that Phylisia and Donna have a very special relationship!

Phylisia was born in Darwin, hails from Milikapiti (Snake Bay), Tiwi Islands, and currently lives in town with her auntie and cousins. Before boarding at Haileybury, Phylisia attended boarding school at Worawa Aboriginal College in Healesville, near Melbourne, for a few years. She then returned home for a year after missing her family. Being surrounded and supported by family and friends is incredibly important to her.

Haileybury staff and Stars members were wonderful mentors as Phylisia pondered plans for 2020. Maths, English and Physical Education were her favourite subjects at school, which swayed her to study Sport and Recreation at Charles Darwin University. She was able to live and study in Darwin with support from the Indigenous Youth Mobility Program (IYMP).

Phylisia also studied Childcare and gained work experience at Murraya Children’s Centre, which cemented her love of children and helping others. She was thrilled to gain a permanent full-time role at Henbury School working with children with disabilities and high needs.

“It’s a good job and I feel blessed!” she humbly commented.

Donna says she is proud of Phylisia for finishing Year 12.

“It’s hard when you come from a remote community, far away from family. There were times when she was homesick but she kept going and seeing it through. I’m super proud of the work she’s doing now, working with young children with special needs. She has hit the ground running! Phylisia did a few different things after school but now has found something she loves and is good at.”

Phylisia is a wonderful mentor to her siblings, always encouraging them to go to school. She tells them that ‘Education is the key to having a job’. During her time at school, she would trace her hand to reinforce the importance of the key areas in her life: education, sport, family and friends.

In 2015, Phylisia was one of 12 Indigenous students chosen by Robert De Castella to travel to the United States and run in the marathon. In the five-kilometre event, Phylisia came an impressive second in her age group. It was one of the greatest experiences of her life and she loved touring the massive cities of New York, Los Angeles and Washington.

In her spare time now, Phylisia loves traditional art painting, playing sport—especially soccer and football—which is no surprise given she is related to Cyril Rioli and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti!

You are a delightful and inspiring young lady, Phylisia, and we loved hearing your story!


Hayley Denny

Alumni Manager