The Moondani Toombadool Centre at Swinburne and Girls Academy have renewed their partnership to raise aspirations and promote higher education pathways for Indigenous girls.
Girls Academy is the leading provider of school-based support programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls in Australia.
“Swinburne is delighted to continue our strong partnership with Girls Academy, to support Indigenous students in building and strengthening community, particularly during these challenging times,” says Professor Duncan Bentley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at Swinburne.
Girls Academy CEO Ricky Grace says support for the almost 3000 girls in the program is even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Staff have been working hard to support all students remotely,” he says. “Even as schools re-open many students have not been able to return to the classroom.”
Swinburne will provide on-the-ground support to students in Girls Academy, through the purchase of up to 60 new telephone contracts for development officers, who work closely with the girls to encourage them to finish school.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the face-to-face delivery of the Girls Academy program,” says Vicky Peters, the manager of Indigenous Student Services in the Moondani Toombadool Centre.
“The Moondani Toombadool Centre is delighted to be able to fund the purchase of mobile phone plans to enable development officers to check-in regularly with the girls to ensure they are staying safe, managing mentally and physically, and continuing with their education.
“We are also supporting live online workshops for Girls Academy students during the pandemic. These workshops will be facilitated by 2019 NAIDOC Sportswoman of the Year, Shantelle Thompson, and focus on resilience, self-motivation, overcoming hurdles and the skills needed to study at home.”
Mr Grace says Swinburne’s support is as practical as it is vital. “We must maintain contact with all the girls in our program, to encourage their return to school and support them through these difficult times,” he says. “Education is the key to their future.”
The Girls Academy program is community-driven and works within schools to support girls to engage in their study, finish Year 12 and go on to further education or employment.
Founded in 2004 to address the inequity in investment in educational support programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls, Girls Academy works closely with government and corporate partners to ensure it can deliver on its purpose: Develop a girl, change a community.