Working with Indigenous Australians
By almost all socio-economic indicators, Australia's Indigenous peoples are the most disadvantaged group in the country. Many Indigenous students face additional challenges in their journey through and beyond school and due to their circumstances are often less likely to complete Year 12 than other non-indigenous students. Research has shown that completing Year 10 or Year 11 increases an Indigenous person's chance of employment by 40%.
Today The Smith Family's work in Indigenous communities aims to keep children, families and communities engaged in learning and providing positive educational experiences and role models, and currently 14% of students supported through the Learning for Life sponsorship program are Indigenous Australians.
As part of our Learning for Life suite of programs, The Smith Family offers wrap-around support to provide the resources to fulfill a student's potential. The Smith Family has initiated mentoring, music and sport programs in Indigenous communities, particulary in the Northern Territory, to involve children in extracurricular activity. Reports from the schools involved indicate these have had a positive effect on broader school participation, motivation and confidence.
Breakfast with a mentor
Helping to make schools a more welcoming place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents is the Breakfast with a Mentor program. Children are provided with a healthy breakfast and they also get access to a sympathetic adult to hear from and to talk to. It's a calm and orderly start to the day and parents are welcome to join for breakfast as well as to bring younger siblings.
This provides a "soft entry" for parents into the school and has proven to be a powerful way to break down barrier between the school and home. The program is also an opportunity to introduce role models to inspire thechildren to fulfill their potential. Schools report a positive impact beyond just the physical importance of the children having had breakfast.
Helping to raise aspirations and motivate teenaged students to have higher expectations of themselves is Experiential Mentoring. Students from remote communities are brought into the city to 'home-stay' with families. During the stay, they get to experience a different social life, discover work opportunities and gain an understanding of what is possible beyond their own lived experience.
Girls at the Centre
The Girls at the Centre program at a Government middle-school in Alice Springs aims to counteract the high absenteeism and school drop-out rates of teenage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls, as well as support them to build constructive, mature relationships with each other, their schools, families and the broader community. The Girls at the Centre model integrates a set of evidence-based components including resources, programs, activities and events, to concentrate on the specific needs of youngAboriginal girls in Alice Springs. The key outcomes of the integrated model address literacy (including school attendance, engagement, achievement and retention), life goals, life skills and community engagement. The focus is to keep young Aboriginal girls, in Years 7-9 engaged in their learning, provide them with positive educational experiences and role models, improve literacy, develop life goals, life skills and establish a positive pathway from school to further study and work/careers.
Keeping Indigenous Kids at Secondary School (KIKASS)
The Keeping Indigenous Kids at Secondary School (KIKASS) program at Bairnsdale, Victoria engages parents in the school and provides extension programs such as Indigenous arts, leadership and communication skills while supporting students through our Learning for Life scholarships.
Swan Nyungar Sports Education Program (SNSEP)
SNSEP is conducted in partnership with the Nyungar community in the northern suburbs of Perth. The program is designed to help Indigenous students achieve more highly in formal education, attain better outcomes from education and develop a greater understanding of their culture, themselves and their potential.