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Mentoring Indigenous students for the future

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


  • Mount Lawley and ECU students who took part in the 2012 mentoring program

    Mount Lawley and ECU students who took part in the 2012 mentoring program

ECU’s School of Education have piloted a new mentoring program for Aboriginal students, which is successfully helping them transition from high school to university.

Developed in 2011, and trialled at Mount Lawley Senior High School, the Aboriginal Excellence and Tertiary Access Mentor Program focused on ways to introduce year eight and nine Aboriginal students to the tertiary environment.

The program has a proven success rate, with 80 per cent of students saying they were ‘very interested’ in attending university after completion.

The program also focused on building the cultural knowledge and mentoring skills of ECU’s mentors from the School of Education.

Program activities included:

  • Researching the life stories of successful Indigenous ECU graduates;
  • A tour of the ECU Mount Lawley Campus and its facilities;
  • Participation in the Indigenous War Veterans commemoration event; and
  • A cultural tour of Kings Park.

For many Mount Lawley students, having a mentor was a great way to talk to someone about their future.

“It was easier to talk to the mentor because it was a one-on-one experience; they listened to me closely and helped me gain some confidence,” one student said.

The mentors embraced the opportunity to further explore Indigenous culture and enhance their own knowledge from within the program.

“I found it important to learn about the challenges facing Indigenous students in regards to educational opportunities and how I as a teacher can play a supportive role in their educational journey,” one mentor said.

At the start of the program, statistics showed that 20 per cent indicated that they were ‘very interested’ in attending University, with the remaining 80 per cent showing ‘little or no interest’

At the end of the program,  at least 80 per cent of students were now ‘very interested’ in University, with the remaining 20 per cent ‘extremely interested’.

The pilot program, which was held throughout 2011 and2012, was funded through the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) and enabled 25 students from ECU and Mount Lawley Senior High School to participate.

A joint initiative of ECU and Mount Lawley Senior High School, the program was lead by School of Education’s Dr Deborah Callcott, Kurongkurl Katitjin’s Professor Colleen Hayward AM and Mount Lawley Senior High School’s Dr Phil Paioff.

The program will continue in 2013 with the support of Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME).

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