UOW Indigenous students RISE to the challenge with tutoring program for high school students

UOW Indigenous students RISE to the challenge with tutoring program for high school students

New program already making a difference in the lives of local Indigenous high school students

Indigenous students from the University of Wollongong (UOW) are making a difference to the lives of high school students through a new tutoring program being run by Woolyungah Indigenous Centre.

The tutoring program is a joint initiative between Woolyungah and Indigenous education organisation, the Aurora Education Foundation (Aurora). The program forms part of Aurora’s RISE initiative, which aims to Redefine Indigenous Success in Education through long-term, Indigenous-led programs that enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students to define and pursue their version of success. Free one-on-one academic tutoring is provided to all RISE students.  

The UOW students provide face-to-face tutoring sessions for students from year 8 through to year 12. The sessions take place weekly or fortnightly on the UOW campus during the school term.

Jaymee Beveridge, Executive Director (Indigenous Strategy) at UOW and Director of Woolyungah, said the tutoring program through Aurora’s RISE initiative works well with existing engagements with local schools.

“We wanted to be part of RISE because it complements our existing ‘My Future Matters’ program that engages Indigenous high school students to think about and explore their futures,” Ms Beveridge said.

“Moving beyond building the aspirations of Indigenous students to being a part of their academic everyday success is what really matters.

“Essentially, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at UOW are making an impact on the lives of local Indigenous high school students, and these positive relationships go beyond just academic success.”

RISE was launched in 2022 and aims to address critical gaps in knowledge about what works in Indigenous education. Central to this is unravelling the idea that ‘success’ in education is a predetermined path. Instead, RISE invites Indigenous students to determine what success looks like to them and then supports students to achieve those self-determined goals.  

 “We know that if Indigenous students see themselves in the design of the education system, they will be more likely to resonate with it, engage with it, take ownership of it and succeed within it. RISE is an important step in making this a reality,” said Leila Smith, CEO of Aurora. “Indigenous-led academic tutoring is a critical component of RISE, and we are delighted to be partnering with the University of Wollongong and Woolyungah Indigenous Centre to deliver this kind of support to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students.”

Indigenous-led tutoring through RISE started at Woolyungah in Term 1 this year (2023) and despite being in its infancy, its impact has already been felt. Selina Donald’s daughter is in year 8 and said she loves being involved.

“My daughter absolutely loves it and couldn’t stop talking about it all night. I would never have imagined her being so excited and happy about tutoring and mentoring,” Ms Donald said.

Tianna Black, a tutor in the RISE initiative at Woolyungah, was also inspired.

“I love giving back and it’s inspired me to go and brush up on my maths to make sure I can really help make a difference,” Ms Black said.

While the program is new at UOW and Woolyungah, it has achieved positive outcomes in other places Aurora have implemented it, with students in the program achieving double year 12 completion rates, triple ATAR attainment and double the transition to university compared to Indigenous students Australia-wide.

For more information please visit Woolyungah Indigenous Centre online or call  +612 4221 3776

About the Aurora Education Foundation

The Aurora Education Foundation is an Indigenous organisation that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to realise their full education and employment potential – whether it is completing Year 12 or achieving a PhD from Cambridge. Through our interconnected pathways, we walk with students from high school through to university and the workplace, redefining Indigenous educational and employment success.

Aurora’s programs are made possible through the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, the National Indigenous Australians Agency and other partners.

Main image: Year 8 student Aliyah and tutor Emma