Wednesday, 14 March 2012 11:40





Awards for Women in the NT who have contributed to the development of Human Rights.

In conjunction with International Women's Day, March9, the Northern Territory Council for Human Rights Education organized an Awards Night to recognize women in the Northern Territory who have 

Contributed to the development of human rights.

There were six award categories based on The Universal  Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women(1979).

Sister Tess Ward fdnsc, Teacher Linguist at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic School,  Wadeye, (Port Keats) was shortlisted in the Education category – For Women who have promoted  

And advocated the right to education and been involved in the community service in the area of education. 

Sister Tess has been named the recipient of this award, for her work as a teacher and teacher  linguist for over forty years, while working in Indigenous education in the Northern Territory and Timor L'este (sic).

We offer Sr Tess our Congratulations on this well deserved recognition of her dedication to the education of Indigenous people. In particular, the recognition of her contribution to the training of Indigenous women and men, in the delivery and preservation, both in the oral and written form of their Indigenous languages.

From Sr Elizabeth Little FDNSC 

To read the letter from the office, click Read More


Chancellor For Governance 


Diocesan Office 2 St John Court 

The Gardens, Darwin  NT 0820 GPO Box476, Darwin NT 0801 

T (08) 89426006  F (08) 89426060 

E This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Name of nominee: SISTER TESS (TERESA) WARD fdnsc 

Category: EDUCATION (Article26UDHR; Articles5& 10CEDAW) 

Reasons for nomination: 

As a teacher, and teacher linguist Sister Tess Ward has spent over forty years working in Indigenous education in the Northern Territory and Timor L'este. Sister is currently the Teacher Linguist at Our 

Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic School, Wadeye Port Keats N.T.

As well as her work at Wadeye, Sister has also worked as a Teacher Linguist at Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic School Wurrumiyanga Bathurst Island. In both cases Sister has gained some knowledge of 

Both the Murrinhpatha and Tiwi languages; is able to converse in both these languages and reads and writes both languages.

Using these gifts and skills, Sister has been and continues to be instrumental in the training of the Indigenous teachers and teaching assistants in the preparation and delivery of lessons, both oral and 

written. The written record of these languages was very important, because both languages were oral languages only and with the introduction of the Bilingual Programme it was necessary that the 

Indigenous languages be correctly recorded in a written format to be used in the production of reading materials and workbooks in both Tiwi and Murrinhpatha.

Hand in hand with the production of these teaching resources was the training of the Indigenous teaching staff not only in the reading of their own language but also in teaching methodology and pedagogy. Sr Tess has had the responsibility of the initial training and the continuation of the teacher training of the Indigenous staff thus enabling them to be competent teachers of their own written and oral language. Throughout all these processes Sister Tess has worked and continues to work alongside the Indigenous teaching staff and elders, being advised by them, talking with and listening to them as well as modelling teaching techniques for them in the classroom and assisting them with their lesson planning and preparation across the curriculum. Sister has also produced books  for  the use by non-Indigenous staff to assist them in their understanding of the languages and cultures.

While in Timor L'este Sister Tess worked with some Timorese women to prepare books in Tetun for children. Sr Tess wrote and also encouraged the women to write many children's books for the Tetun language primary program, including an illustrated dictionary for children. Sister worked with the women and others to teach better literacy methods as well as writing teachers' guides and an English-Tetun and Tetun-English dictionary of everyday words. 

Sister Tess has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the women amongst whom she has lived and worked and is living and working, firstly by learning their languages and secondly by assisting them in 

the development of their natural talents and skills. They are able to 'better' themselves through education, 'stand tall' and be proud of the results that they have achieved and the positive contribution that they are able to make to the education of the children in their Community both now and into the future.

[Sent by Leo Wearden MSC]