Forming productive partnerships with those who design and deliver secondary school curriculum allows for the exchange of ideas
Four key programs focus on capacity building and academic achievement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and graduates. These programs include the Deadly Alumni; Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience; South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy; and the Aboriginal Power Cup. All of these programs are funded under the HEPPP.
- University of South Australia (UniSA)
- Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) and the South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy (SAASTA)
- Tauondi College
- Port Adelaide Football Club
- Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME).
UniSA’s central objective is to become the university of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South Australia and beyond. By developing respectful and sustainable partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, our aim is to deliver better educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Taken together, the four inter-related programs respond to the Behrendt Review, in particular to the recommendation about refocusing HEPPP activity on developing academic skills in the areas of maths and science; building peer and family networks; and providing Years 10 to 12 with mentoring, pathway support and case management and academic enrichment programs.
The Deadly Alumni provides graduates with professional development and networking opportunities; AIME delivers mentoring support to secondary students; the SAASTA Academy (which includes the Aboriginal Power Cup) supports Years 10 to 12 curriculum development and revision linked to the Australian Curriculum and the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) and provides deeper engagement with STEM learning concepts.
The Deadly Alumni is only in the early stages of operation, however, its champions have the community respect necessary to make an outstanding contribution. The Alumni is linked with the AIME program where UniSA graduates act as role-models and give back to the community by mentoring secondary Indigenous students. AIME is an interactive mentoring program that supports Indigenous students through high school, and delivers a range of programs. Schools can elect either to be involved in Core or Elective Program delivery.
SAASTA and the Aboriginal Power Cup utilises sport to engage Indigenous Australian secondary students, improve student achievement and enhance understanding of higher education and positive life choices. The Aboriginal Power Cup is now in its seventh year of operation. Student participation is linked to the study of a SACE unit, coordinated by SAASTA. The unit culminates with a three day carnival which incorporates the football competition, leadership skills, workshops and career information. It is important to acknowledge that the winners of the Aboriginal Power Cup are those students who achieve in the academic curriculum.
The Alumni was launched at UniSA in August 2014. A formal chapter is being finalised and further partnerships with the Indigenous Internship Program (Career Trackers) are being developed. Sixty-six UniSA Indigenous Alumni will be potentially involved in the Deadly Alumni in 2014/15.
2013 was the first year the AIME program operated at the UniSA. To date, UniSA has 118 mentors and 301 mentees participating in the program across 20 schools. According to a 2014 evaluation report, AIME is making a strong contribution to achieving the target to halve the gap for Indigenous people aged 20–24 in Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates (by 2020).
In 2014, a new SAASTA Academy commenced at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes Campus with 52 students enrolled. The educational program engages students via sport, and uses this engagement as a way to improve student achievement and increase awareness of higher education pathways.
Ninety per cent of students involved in the Aboriginal Power Cup achieved Stage 1 and 2 SACE units in 2013. Forty-three Year 12 students used the cultural and sporting components of the Aboriginal Power Cup to achieve a pass grade in their Integrated Learning Stage 2 subject that directly contributes towards achieving their SACE. Many of these students used the subject to achieve an ATAR, thus assisting them with qualifications for university entry.
UniSA College was established by UniSA in 2011. In addition to implementing the university’s Participation Strategy, it is contributing to the goals identified in our recently launched Reconciliation Action Plan.
The head of the college is a member of the UniSA’s Directors Group and a member of the Indigenous Participation, Education and Employment Group. The head of the college works closely with the Dean of Indigenous Scholarship, Engagement and Research to conceptualise and deliver HEPPP programs. In relation to the partnership with SAASTA, the UniSA College team meet regularly. A partnership agreement has been developed and an Academy at Mawson Lakes Campus established.
The partnerships work because:
- Policy initiatives like the Behrendt Review and the desire to make a difference in STEM outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students has driven partnership activity.
- Partners spend significant time assembling resources, working through effective ways to engage learners and work together. These include a shared approach to curriculum development for secondary students and supportive and targeted resourcing including UniSA College staff time.
- The partnership agreement was written collaboratively with shared objectives, outcomes and deliverables.
- The SAASTA academic programs are delivered in the Maths and Science Centre at Mawson Lakes Campus which provides a creative learning space designed to engage secondary students in maths and science activity.
UniSA will continue to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, organisations and stakeholders. UniSA College will maintain and expand our partnership with SAASTA. In addition to the continuation of existing program activities, a new partnership between UniSA and the Port Adelaide Football Club (PAFC) will extend the focus on Aboriginal education. The new partnership has a commitment to remote communities, and will include PAFC’s WillPOWER program, which is designed to motivate young Aboriginal people to attend school. The partnership will see program activity extended into Maralinga and the Ananju Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands. The partnership will seek to increase the school retention rate of Aboriginal students in remote communities and also study the impact improved health and nutrition can have on education outcomes.
This case study is one of a series of 31 presented in our case study publication, Partnerships in Higher Education.