Appointment courts indigenous students
Formal education has existed in Australia for more than 200 years, yet indigenous youth have had alarmingly low participation rates, making up just 6 per cent of Victorian students having a Bachelor degree or higher qualification.
La Trobe University is making a serious attempt at redressing this issue and has recently appointed an Indigenous Officer on the Shepparton Campus. Michael Chisholm says his role will be about showing the Indigenous community that education is achievable.
‘Coming from a small Murray River Town in New South Wales, I know university is not a topic that is often spoken about amongst Indigenous families at the dinner table,’ Michael says.
‘I’m here to advocate a new way of thinking for the young Indigenous community and show them through my personal experience that higher education should be a priority,’ he says.
Michael, who is of Indigenous heritage, says going to university was not his first preference.
‘Once I left high school I spent six years working in hospitality before I decided to make the move from small town Barooga to Shepparton to improve my career prospects,’ he says.
As part of the Indigenous Education Unit Michael makes monthly visits to the six secondary schools around the region to speak about the support services offered at La Trobe.
‘We offer the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ITAS) where students have 2 hours of personalised tuition from former students. ITAS does not only work as a mentoring program but it’s also like a cultural exchange between the students, who come from various cultural backgrounds, and Indigenous students,’ he says.
‘Aboriginal culture is becoming a part of La Trobe’s curriculum which gives people from non-indigenous backgrounds the opportunity to learn more about it.’
Michael said the Aboriginal studies course lets students have ‘On Country’ experience, including travel to the Barmah Forest to meet and hear from representatives of the local Aboriginal community.
La Trobe University Media Officer
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