Kiara College Aboriginal Students Showcase Culture in Big Apple

Dakota Times Square 2015

Playing didgeridoo in the middle of Times Square in New York City seemed an impossible dream for two Kiara College Aboriginal students, but both discovered that dreams do come true thanks to the AUSUM Entrepreneurship program.

Kiara College students Jay McLean and Dakota Baker spent a week in New York recently after winning the inaugural AUSUM ‘Bizcamp’ program with their business Baldja Moort, an Aboriginal traditional dance group that performs at schools, festivals and events.

Both students developed the business idea as part of their involvement with the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program which provides aspirational Indigenous students with after school tutoring and individual mentoring.

AUSUM CEO Liz Prescott said the trip had been an amazing and powerful experience for the boys and enabled them to connect with other students from around the world as well as showcase their Aboriginal traditional culture business.

“They met other students from Belgium, China, England, Germany, Israel, Ireland, Mexico, Colombia and Singapore as well as Sara Blakely, the Founder of global success story Spanx,” Ms Prescott said.

Kiara College Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success co-­?ordinator Libby Elphick said the boys had returned from the trip even more excited about their business and proud of being able to represent Aboriginal Australians to such a diverse group of people.

“Imagine a dream in your mind that is never going to come true and then all of a sudden it happens,” Jay said. “I never thought I would be able to play the didj in Times Square and I did; attending the AUSUM camp has actually been life changing for me.”

“It was also amazing to see how fascinating and beautiful our culture is to people who have no knowledge of it at all,” Jay said.

“I never thought we would have the opportunity to represent our culture overseas but when the opportunity presented itself we rose to the challenge,” Dakota said. “It was also amazing to see how close the Native American culture is to our culture and also how much of it has been decimated.”

Founded in New York in 1987, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (renamed AUSUM Entrepreneurship in Australia) began as a program to improve academic performance among students at risk of failing or dropping out of school and has only just been launched in Australia in February this year. AUSUM Entrepreneurship was recently confirmed as a WACE accredited program for delivery in WA high schools in 2016.

For the past 17 years, The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation has been providing Aboriginal students with after school tuition and individual mentoring support. Since its inception, more than 730 Aboriginal students have graduated from its programs and there are currently around 1100 Aboriginal students across Australia participating in one of the Foundation’s 33 programs.

The Kiara College program is attended by 27 students and made possible through support from The AMP Foundation, the Western Australian Education department and the Foundation.

Kiara College Follow the Dream/Partnerships for success project co-­?ordinator Libby Elphick M: 0424 254 656
AUSUM CEO Liz Prescott M: 0499 001 441

Jay McLean at Times Square

Dakota Baker and Jay McLean

Kiara College student Jay McLean plays didgeridoo in Times Square, New York City.
Kiara College students Dakota Baker and Jay McLean showcase their business to US Consul General to WA Cynthia Griffin.

Click here to download the media release PDF.