Gympie State High School has won an award for indigenous education. Pictured (from left) is Kheeley Bennet, Yharren Bennet, deputy principal Brett Allan, indigenous support officer Raylene Gibb, Joe Conlon and Tirzah Colonel.
Gympie State High School has won an award for indigenous education. Pictured (from left) is Kheeley Bennet, Yharren Bennet, deputy principal Brett Allan, indigenous support officer Raylene Gibb, Joe Conlon and Tirzah Colonel. Craig Warhurst

Mentoring program gains recognition

THE Dajali Indigenous Mentoring Program run at Gympie State High School is receiving national recognition for its work in improving indigenous education.

Run in conjunction with United Synergies, the program this month won the Australian Education Union Arthur Hamilton Award, recognising outstanding contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education.

The school was presented with the award and prizemoney at a presentation in Melbourne last Saturday.

The Indigenous Mentoring Program is a tiered model whereby high school students are mentored by local elders, then in turn mentor a group of primary-aged students from nearby Monkland, Gympie West and Jones Hill state schools.

The program has been operating for two years and aims to enhance the literacy skills and employment opportunities of the Gympie State High School students.

The group attends weekly literacy tutoring sessions, engages in cultural identity research, and uses indigenous literature as a stimulus for the mentoring sessions.

Program co-ordinator Ruby Anderson said the impact of the program continued to increase with several other successes and highlights in the past few months as well.

In October, the program was nominated for a Lead 2011 Community Leaders Awards - one of only eight in the state.

Ms Anderson said the program was improving student achievements and developing indigenous student leaders.

"There has been a general overall improvement in individual student reporting in major subject areas and recent NAPLAN testing results had indicated the school's students performed better than the national mean in all areas," she said.

"The program has also achieved an increase in overall school attendance and enabled participants to gain a greater sense of self and belonging.

"It's provided students with a number of opportunities, including the High Ropes Program, Yarning Circle, flora and fauna excursions and an indigenous focused career expo."

Four of the program's 2011 students represented the school in the Zones Schools Indigenous Constitutional Convention at Parliament House and five of the senior-level students were accepted into the Future Indigenous Leadership Program with John Pearson Consultancy and are now working towards completing a Certificate IV in Events Management.

Already three of these graduates have gone on to further education or employment - one studying drama and dance at university and two working full time.

Gympie Times


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