Broome Indigenous Students Celebrate

Broome Indigenous high school students will gather tonight to celebrate the past three years that the Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program has been offered at their schools.

Known locally as Walarba Bugarri, the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation program started in 2011, thanks to support from Woodside Energy Ltd, and was offered to students at both Broome Senior High School and St Mary’s College Broome.

Foundation General Manager Projects Douglas Mitchell said the program in Broome was the first cross sectoral Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program in Australia.

“The Foundation started helping aspirant Aboriginal students more than 15 years ago and is now running 30 programs in 26 communities across Australia, but this is our first community where both the public and private education sectors have come together,” Douglas said.

The program has already achieved great success in Broome, with 20 Year 12 students achieving their Western Australian Certificate of Education in 2011 and another 23 last year, a total of 43 in the first two years of the program.

“In 2013, we have a total of 69 students from years 8-12 participating in the program with 45 from Broome Senior High School and 24 from St Mary’s College, which is really encouraging and we look forward to seeing more students graduate year 12,” Douglas said.

St Mary’s College Principal Michael Pepper said it had been most beneficial to work together with Broome Senior High to deliver the best possible outcomes for all students in Broome regardless of which school they attended.

“We have a school population of 50/50 Indigenous and non-Indigenous students at St Mary’s College with many of our students coming in from the desert and remote communities,” Mr Pepper said.

“We certainly compete with each other on the sporting field in athletics and football and I believe this competition is very healthy for our students. However, with regards to the students’ academic achievement, we want to see them all succeed and achieve their full potential.

“The Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program encourages high levels of attendance, builds self-esteem and provides important mentoring and guidance through each of the participating students’ education journey.”

Broome Senior High School Principal Saeed Amin believes the Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program is fantastic because it positively helps close the cultural gap and brings students up to speed with their education.

“In a town like Broome all the kids know each other so it is important that we take the bigger picture and make this about the students, the town and the Kimberley,” Mr Amin said.

“By pooling our resources we can provide a program which has even better outcomes and we can also learn from each other.

“The Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program is particularly good as it supports what happens in the classroom and allows the schools to get on with the business of educating our students,” he said. “In addition, the values of the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation are very powerful for the students.”

Woodside Vice President Regional Affairs Niegel Grazia said Woodside was proud to support the Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program in Broome as well as the Gumula Mirnuwarni program in Roebourne and Karratha.

“At Woodside, we have a commitment to provide Indigenous people with real opportunities, through education, employment and business participation,” Mr Grazia said.

“Our support of the Polly Farmer Foundation is just one example of how we are working together to make a difference for young Aboriginal people through education.

“We believe the team at the Foundation is genuinely helping Aboriginal students in the Kimberley realise their potential.”

Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation General Manager Projects Douglas Mitchell ph: 0488 990 031