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First male student graduates in Tiwi Island school's history

Paulinus, Xavier Catholic College

The Cathy Freeman Foundation is proud to celebrate and congratulate the first male student to graduate from his remote island school in Wurrumiyanga on the Tiwi Islands. A remarkable achievement for a community that only two years earlier celebrated the first student to graduate with a Northern Territory Certificate of Education (NTCET).

Thanks to your incredible support, Paulinus has had the opportunity to participate in Cathy Freeman Foundation programs since the Foundation first partnered with the community four years ago.

Tess Fong, current principal at Xavier Catholic College, believes the Cathy Freeman Foundation Horizons Program had a profound impact on Paulinus’ pathway to graduation.

"I remember when he went on his first Horizons camp two years ago because I picked up the students when they returned. We had a conversation in the car and I spoke to him about the camp and what he wanted to do. He said to me that he would really like to graduate. I really feel that Horizons planted that seed in his mind that ‘I can do this’ and he was very determined when he got back,” said Ms Fong.

Jade Colgan, CEO of the Cathy Freeman Foundation is delighted to see education outcomes improving for Indigenous students but says there is still a long way to go.

"Ultimately the Foundation aims to ensure young people are empowered and achieving their dreams.This is only the beginning for students like Paulinus, but we know with more support for education programs like that of the Cathy Freeman Foundation’s, there is no limit for what our young people can achieve,” said Ms. Colgan.

As Paulinus, his family and the whole community celebrate this historic milestone, we spent some time with the Horizons Program alumni to reflect on his achievement.

Have you been on Horizons before? 

Yep, I went to Sydney for one week. 

What was the best part about going to Sydney?  

Meeting new friends from different remote communities. Seeing Bondi Beach.  

What is your biggest achievement?

I’ll be the first male to graduate at Xavier Catholic College.  

How does it make you feel?  

Makes me feel very proud of myself, for what I’m doing right now, going to school and achieve my dreams. I’m really proud. 

What do you want to do after school?

Go to  uni and start doing a lot of study. Singing or footy. Or maybe come back here and find a good job.  

You must be a role model in your community?  Maybe in the future, they’ll be looking up to me.  

Why is education so important?  

For me it is important because education is the key for me to access my future.

Congratulations to Paulinus and to all of the graduates across our four partner communities and beyond - we wish you the very best for the future!

No matter where you live, Year 12 completion is a pretty big deal, but even more so in remote communities like Wurrumiyanga, which have some of the lowest Year 12 attainment rates in the country.

With your support, we can help more Indigenous young people like Paulinus, feel empowered and reach their goal of Year 12 graduation.

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