Aboriginal students across Australia are continuing to excel with 95 per cent from the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation’s program graduating Year 12 last year and most going on to further studies or jobs.
Benita McGintya, a 2013 Year 12 student from Sevenoaks College in Cannington, won an Exhibition Award for Vocational Education and Training, a first for Sevenoaks.
From Fitzroy Crossing, Benita moved to Perth when she was 12 to complete her schooling, adjusting to three different schools, overcoming the social barriers that are prevalent among Aboriginal students with different language backgrounds and the social isolation from being away from family. Benita attributes her success to the strong family support she receives and the help of the Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success Program.
“Without Follow the Dream I would not have done so well,” she said. “Jennet Hansen mentored me and followed me throughout my journey, always encouraging me, helping me to apply for different opportunities and making sure I was happy and had all my work done.”
Benita has returned home to Fitzroy Crossing with a WACE, Certificate 2 in IT, Certificate 2 in Business, a series of awards and accomplishments and the VET Exhibition.
“Now that I have finished my schooling, I want to get into land management and help build our country for our people,” she said.
Sevenoaks had an outstanding 100% secondary graduation achieved by the Aboriginal students in 2013 with four students now enrolled at university: Bryn Davis, Andrew Yarran, Iyesha Hayden and Delson Blackwood.
Tom Price Senior High School also had a number of high achievers including Brandon Cook who completed his ATAR and has started the UWA School of Indigenous Studies Aboriginal Orientation Course, with ultimate plans to become a lawyer.
Brandon said graduating from Tom Price Senior High School was one of his biggest and greatest achievements and without the help of the Tom Price Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success Program, founded by Polly Farmer, he probably wouldn’t be at UWA today.
“I would like to thank the co-ordinator Joe Manning for his great support and the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, cause without them there would be no Follow the Dream Program,” Brandon said.
“I’m currently doing a bridging course for this year called the Orientation Course, the course is a great and I recommend it to those who seek high education. Next year hopefully I’ll be studying a Bachelor of Arts and then Majoring in Law and Politics in the following years. Getting accepted into the University of Western Australia is also one of my biggest and greatest achievements.
“My career goal is to become a great lawyer to help Indigenous people and lately I’ve got the slight idea of joining politics, so I’m keeping my options open.” he said. “My motto is ‘Don’t let life change your goals, because achieving your goals can change your life.’”
Also graduating from the Foundation’s program at Tom Price Senior High School was Lenka Hansen who completed the vocational Pathway and was also accepted into UWA School of Indigenous Studies Aboriginal Orientation Course but has chosen to defer for a year and is currently seeking employment. Madison Logan completed her Certificate II in Business during high school, and has gained full time employment at Tom Price Computer Services.
Eastern Goldfields College graduate Shyler Butler gained entry into the UWA Bachelor of Science program despite becoming a new mum during her final year at high school.
“People told me a lot, that what I was doing was great but there was no way they could have done it, but having my baby Oliver was only more motivating for me to succeed,” Shyler said.
“I now want to succeed at university and eventually be someone my son will be proud of,” she said. “This motivation combined with the support of my family, friends, teachers and the Polly Farmer Foundation made it much simpler than what it seemed.”
“Even after leaving school and beginning my university studies our coordinator Mr Ang still looks out for me, making sure I have the support I need such as scholarships.”
The Foundation currently has more than 1000 students in 31 programs across Australia, including the high school Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program, the Maths and Science Centres of Excellence and the Learning Clubs for primary students.
Foundation President Dr Sue Gordon said it was exciting to see so many Aboriginal students achieving exceptional academic success and going on to bright futures.
“When we hear such positive stories about students which have been involved in our programs it gives us the energy and motivation to keep fighting to expand the programs so more Aboriginal students have improved chances of success,” Dr Gordon said.
In Western Australia, the Foundation is supported by the Department of Education as well as a number of supporters from the private sector and Foundations. The Sevenoaks program is supported by BHP Billiton, Tom Price programs by Rio Tinto and Gumala Aboriginal Corporation and the Kalgoorlie program by BHP Billiton Nickel West, Anglogold Ashanti and Wesfarmers.
Of the 164 Year 12 students who participated in the Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program in 2013, 156 graduated with 26 per cent going on to university, 17 per cent to tertiary courses at TAFE, 20 per cent gaining a traineeship or apprenticeship and 24 per cent going into direct employment.
Contact: Communication and Partnerships Adviser Lisa Holland-McNair: Mobile: 0407 364 300