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Footprints June 2017: Let's talk about Indigenous achievement

We love to bring you the most up-to-date news on our programs and encourage conversations about Indigenous achievement, so we’ve put together a series of stories called Footprints. Footprints celebrates the great things happening in our partner schools, whether it’s showcasing improvement in attendance or students experiencing a trip of a lifetime on one of our Horizons Programs, no change is too little or too big. And the best part is, you as our supporter are crucial to helping bring about these positive changes that can truly change lives.

Our first Footprints story comes from our partner community Galiwin’ku. We had the pleasure of speaking to Greg Skewes, teacher at Shepherdson College about a couple of Grade 6 students who recently travelled the long journey south to Melbourne to participate in the Horizons Program. The aim of Horizons is to build self-esteem and provide school students with the tools to set and achieve their own goals and to finish Year 12. We think Greg perfectly captured the essence of the program in his reflection below.

“Before Ashanti and Gerard went on camp they were quietly spoken, now they’re more confident, I see in the future they will be leaders of our community here. They’ve improved their reading, writing, maths, they want to get a job and they work hard at school. They have a better understanding of the Balanda (non-Indigenous) world. It’s fairly limited up here, it doesn’t fit together until they walk along Collins Street in Melbourne. I think when the kids go on these trips it helps to sort of understand that there’s a lot of stuff happening out there, it helps them understand that we need to be educated, we need to work on making sure our people are well looked after. The other things they can do is to go down south and see how many Aboriginal people do they see, how many Aboriginal people in Parliament, not many, so they can see well maybe I need to become educated, go to Parliament house so that I can look after my people.

The changes I saw from Ashanti and Gerard after the camp was confidence, that was the first one. Their work ethic in the classroom got better. That they were quietly proud of what they’d done. They don’t walk around and talk about their trip to everybody, you have to ask them the right questions to get information out of them. I noticed that there were things going into their writing that I hadn’t seen before, that showed better understanding. When they were talking about cities they were talking about going up this big tower and they looked out over Melbourne at all the people and all the cars and all the trains. If they’re going to do well at school and if they’re going to represent their Yolngu people well they need to be confident, especially in front of Balanada. After they went down, rubbing shoulders with thousands of Balandas and build their confidence, they’re more likely to stand up and be counted.

Their families were very proud of them when they went away on the Cathy Freeman Foundation camp. The camp benefits their education, they see opportunities for employment. Both Ashanti and Gerrard received Attendance Awards at the end of the year, partially for the fact that they’d been on that trip to Melbourne.”

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