On Wednesday 14th March, Aboriginal students on the Gumala Mirnuwarni Education Project formally made their commitment to the program at the Compact Signing event held at Karratha Senior High School. The program, which is co-managed by the Department of Education and the Graham Polly Farmer Foundation, provides after-school tutoring and mentoring, academic enrichment, Perth career camps, cultural excursions and pathway planning.

The Compact Signing is an annual event where students, parents, and program partners formally state their support and dedication to the program and the students’ education.

The Gumala Mirnuwarni Education Project (“Coming Together to Learn”) was the very first program of its kind. It was launched by the Graham Polly Farmer Foundation in 1997 in partnership with Rio Tinto, Woodside and the WA Department of Education.

23 Aboriginal students from Karratha, Roebourne and Wickham were enrolled in the very first year. Over the following 20 years, the program was rolled out across Australia and today there are approximately 1800 students enrolled in 28 secondary programs (known around the country as ‘Follow the dream: Partnerships for Success’) and 16 primary programs. Two of these primary programs have been successfully running in the local area for over five years – the Roebourne Learning Club and the Wickham Maths & Science Centre of Excellence.

Lesley Misarz, who has embarked on her second year as the Program Coordinator of the Gumala Mirnuwarni Education Project, says the program is more popular than ever, with more and more students each year applying to join this fantastic education opportunity.

Lesley said: “The Gumala Mirnuwarni Education Project continues to go from strength to strength. We had some impressive successes last year, with a number of our Year 12 graduates moving into exciting post-school destinations, including two students gaining apprenticeships at Woodside and several students entering into pre-apprentice training and full-time employment. This job is extremely rewarding as I can see how hard the students are working to achieve their goals and dreams.”

Representatives from the program’s corporate partners – Rio Tinto and Woodside (the latter representing the North West Shelf Project Partners) – also attended the Compact Signing event and reiterated their long-term support for the program and their pride in the students’ achievements.

The partnership model between the Graham Polly Farmer Foundation, the Department of Education, the school, the local community and private enterprise has been crucial from the very beginning. This trusted and collaborative partnership model has ensured the long-term sustainability of the program for over two decades.

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