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High achievers open eyes of Indigenous teenagers to Windows of the Future


6 June 2014
A hot air balloon pilot, an art gallery director, a police officer and a surf instructor will be sharing their career journeys with Indigenous teenagers at an Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) event at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus on Thursday June 5.

‘Windows to the Future’ is a new activity in the AIME curriculum that encourages Northern Rivers’ year 11 and 12 Indigenous high school students to turn their passions into a career path they may never have imagined possible.

The special guests who will be sharing their stories at ‘Windows to the Future’ are:

• Thomas Dattler, champion hot air balloon pilot and owner of Byron Bay Ballooning
• Brett Adlington, director of Lismore Regional Gallery
• Struan Presgrave, graduate of the Indigenous police academy, IPROWD (Indigenous Police Recruitment Our Way Delivered)
• Chelsi Rolton, Indigenous police officer based at Byron Bay police station
• Taylor Claire Miller, Byron Bay surfing instructor and University of Sydney graduate with an Honours thesis in surfing culture
• John Bancroft, fundraising coordinator at Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter

Brett Adlington, Lismore Regional Gallery director, said he was excited to be part of AIME.

“In my field, there was not really a clear direction about how to develop a career when I left university. I’ve had great opportunities present themselves to me, but for many young people navigating a future path for themselves can be a daunting thing.

“Programs such as this are hugely beneficial in not only helping young people develop career paths, but also to close the gap for future generations. Privileged Australia often forgets the obstacles facing many young people. Programs such as this dramatically help Indigenous young people have improved education outcomes, which benefit all of society.”

Byron Bay surf instructor Taylor Claire Miller said education was one of the keys to success.

“Education is indisputably a direct vessel to quality of life, regardless of how one measures such quality. So what better way could I involve myself in my community then to pitch in to the AIME game?

“AIME has a straight up, pragmatic approach to improving education standards here in Australia and so I am so happy to support is, of course!"

Pat Orme is AIME’s program manager for the Lismore campus.

“As one of the first mentors at the first school AIME worked with back in 2006, it is remarkable to see the tangible results of the program. AIME empowers and inspires indigenous high school students to be the best that they can be.

“The sessions which are held at Southern Cross University, coupled with University student mentors, act as incredibly effective mechanisms to expose the mentees to higher education, something which the majority have never considered prior to being involved in the program.”

AIME has been running at Southern Cross University since 2009, starting at the Coffs Harbour campus.

Professor Andrew McAuley, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) at Southern Cross University, said AIME was a program that changed the lives of its participants.

“Generations of kids get inspired by seeing others succeed. For example, the upcoming FIFA World Cup will see millions of young people kicking soccer balls around their streets and backyards. From these beginnings the next Cahill, Ronaldo or Beckham will emerge.

“For those teenagers taking part in the ‘Widows to the Future’ program, the words of the guest speakers will open their eyes to expand their thinking around what is possible. That is a gift beyond value and SCU is proud to be associated with the work of AIME.”

Locally, the AIME program sees University students act as mentors and tutors
for Indigenous high school students in the Lismore, Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour regions. AIME also connects students with opportunities available after they finish Year 12, including further education and employment.

Nationally, the program has given Indigenous students the skills, opportunities, belief and confidence to finish school at the same rate as their non-Indigenous peers. In 2013, around 76 per cent of year 9 Torres Strait Islander participants progressed through to year 12 (2013 AIME Annual Report). This exceeds the national Indigenous average of 41 per cent.