Girls at the Centre

Our actions count

The Smith Family creates opportunities for young Australians in need by providing long-term support for their participation in education.

In the last year our work supported over 174,823 children, young people, parents, carers and community professionals across 94 communities throughout regional and metropolitan Australia.

Around 8,822 of the young people we support are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Making crucial steps towards addressing educational inequality in Australia

Did you know

Making crucial steps towards addressing educational inequality in Australia

In Australia, there is a large gap in the educational achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women compared with their non-Indigenous peers.

Only 34% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 15 years and over have completed Year 12 or its equivalent, compared with 59% of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.1

Girls at the Centre reduces school achievement gaps through relationship building and mentoring

Girls at the Centre is an aspirational program that aims to counteract the high absenteeism and school drop-out rates of teenage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls. It helps them build constructive relationships with each other, their schools, families and community members.

Between 2008-15, a pilot of the program was delivered in Alice Springs, NT. Today the program is established in Bairnsdale VIC, and Wagga Wagga NSW. In both locations the program runs in partnership with local schools.

Girls at the Centre - Wagga Wagga - Activities

It’s an evidence-based approach

Girls at the Centre - Bairnsdale - Online learning

It’s an evidence-based approach

Educational achievement is essential for both boys and girls. Yet Australian research shows that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 15 to 34, the positive influence of education on employment rates is stronger for women than for men.2

Research also indicates that Aboriginal women may need to have a higher level of education than males, to experience the same level of wellbeing, self-efficacy and the ability to have a say in the community on important issues.

The impact of education on Aboriginal girls has a further flow on effect as women are often instrumental in bringing about social change.

The Girls at the Centre model uses evidence-based components including resources, programs, activities and events which focus on the specific needs of Aboriginal girls and help to keep them engaged in their learning.

Through the program, the girls have access to positive educational experiences and to role models.

This additional support helps them develop life goals and life skills, and establish a positive pathway from school to further study and work.

We measure our outcomes

An independent evaluation3 of the Girls at the Centre program showed how highly valued the program was by the girls, school staff and their families. It showed positive development for the girls’ life goals and skills and it significantly improved their school attendance rates. The program also strengthened family and community engagement with the school.

Since 2016 Girls at the Centre has been operating in Bairnsdale and Wagga Wagga. Already the program is having a positive impact. School staff report improved school attendance rates for girls on the program, greater engagement in learning and improved attitudes and behaviours.

Girls at the Centre - Wagga Wagga - Girls

Download our Research Report and read how Girls at the Centre improves the educational outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls.

1 ABS. 2016. 2016 Community Profiles, Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Profile, Table I06.

2 Karmet T et al (2014) Improving labour market outcomes through education and training, Issues Paper no 9, Australian Government.

3 Lea T & Driscoll C (2012) Evaluation of the ‘Girls at the Centre’ program, Alice Springs, University of Sydney.