By ZOE CARTWRIGHT
Imagine, for a moment, you’re a child excited to be starting school- when you’re small starting school seems like a pretty grown up exciting thing to be doing. Now imagine that instead of being confident that school is somewhere you will be safe and supported, entitled to an education, school is a place you can be excluded from
If just one other student complains about you- about anything at all, not just how you behave but how you look, sound, even if they say that you smell. That could ruin school for you.
Today we would call that bullying and discrimination. Just 50 years ago it was government policy. The policy of exclusion meant that for many Indigenous Australians alive today, education was not something they were entitled to as children. For many, schools are associated with bullying, discrimination, exclusion, and an institution that participated in the stolen generations.
As a result, many young Indigenous people today struggle with conflicted attitudes towards education. Some Indigenous kids may not be supported at home. Mum and dad might not be able to help them with homework, because they never had access to an education system we take for granted. They might not have access to a computer. And although this is the case for other students in Australia, it is not as a direct result of discriminatory government policy.
AIME addressed this by supporting Indigenous students in an informal environment, encouraging them to succeed. And it works. Indigenous students who participate in AIME are six times more likely to go on to university than Indigenous students who don’t. This is a huge step in the direction of smashing the gap in education. And as education is one of the primary social determinants of health, AIME is also making a strong contribution to reducing the gap in other areas as well. This is where I come in. I’m currently fundraising and volunteering for an organisation called AIME- the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience.
It’s a great cause that aims to eliminate the gap in educational outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The organisation has a proven success rate, increasing the number of Aboriginal kids who go on to higher education sixfold in participating groups.
Improving educational outcomes for Indigenous kids also contributes to reduced rates of criminal offending and reducing the gap in health and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, education level is strongly correlated to these issues. So it’s not just about a better education and a fair go for these kids but a safer and healthier society for everyone!
I’m aiming to raise $3000- that’s the cost of putting one kid through the program for one year. I’m currently sitting on $600, and I know with your help we can make that $3000 by the end of the year! We are trying to increase the number of kids with access to the program from 3,500 to 10,000 by 2018. With your help we can make that dream a reality for one extra student.
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