Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from 16 secondary schools in the Macarthur area now have the chance to participate in an after-school academic and cultural program.
Ngara Wingara – Dharawal for ‘to listen, to think’ – is a partnership between the University of Western Sydney and the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation which targets students in Years 7 to 12.
The program, was launched at the UWS Campbelltown campus on March 18, will provide academic and cultural enrichment to aspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to help them achieve their goals.
Attending the launch was; Acting UWS Vice-Chancellor Professor Denise Kirkpatrick along with Dr Andrew McDonald, member for Macquarie Fields, Dr Sue Gordon, Chair and Patron of Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, , and Dharawal Elder Aunty Frances Bodkin who delivered the Welcome to Country. Students participating in the program and their families will also be in attendance.
Acting UWS Vice-Chancellor Professor Denise Kirkpatrick says, UWS is very pleased to be partnering with the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation with this program. Similar Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation programs have improved school student and post-school destinations.
“UWS has a longstanding commitment to building aspirations and improving educational outcomes in Greater Western Sydney and beyond, by working with government, schools, parents, community leaders and elders. I am proud to say that UWS has one of the largest and oldest university and school engagement programs in the country, with a wide range of programs and partners, where we work with over four hundred schools and thousands of primary and secondary school students every year,” says Prof Kirkpatrick.
Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation President Dr Gordon says, the Foundation was excited to have a program at the UWS Campbelltown campus and it had been made possible through collaboration with many different groups.
“It is funded by the Australian Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program, supported by the University of Western Sydney and our Foundation, and overseen by a steering committee consisting of University Indigenous Elders, Campbelltown Council and Campbelltown/Macarthur partnership brokers MWLP and the NSW Department of Education and Communities.
“The people which sit on steering committees manage, review and ensure the programs meet key targets and performance indicators. All these separate parties come together, along with the students’ parents and families, at the beginning of the program to sign an agreement to work together to ensure the success of the student.
“This collaborative approach works as all parties put aside their different agendas and work towards the common goal of nurturing and supporting a highly disadvantaged group of people through the difficult journey we call schooling,” says Dr Gordon.
UWS Partnership for Success Program Manager, Terry Wright, says many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students have the potential to succeed at university.
“The Ngara Wingara program will help high school students set educational goals to suit their interests and talents and, importantly, encourage them to explore tertiary education options,” says Mr Wright.
An external committee selects students for the program based on their academic and NAPLAN results and their school attendance (90 per cent or above), as well as personal statements and school recommendations. Students in the program must also commit to twice weekly, two-hour sessions after school.
Tutors in the program come from a variety of backgrounds such as secondary teachers and UWS students, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from various faculties.
The tutors help high school students with their academic studies and knowledge of their culture. The program also aims to reinforce young students’ cultural identities.
Tanya Patterson, UWS Media Officer, M: 0414 018 498, E: firstname.lastname@example.org