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Embracing Education Opportunity

The National Alliance for Remote Indigenous Schools (NARIS) Leadership conference brought together the leaders of some of the most remote schools in Australia. 

The 2012 conference was held in Perth and I was invited as a guest speaker.  Over 25% of Indigenous children are educated in remote schools which means that each of these schools play a huge role in ending the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. 

As Australians, if we are going to end this disparity it is crucial for these children to engage and embrace the educational opportunities ahead of them.

Through my life and varying roles as a father, and a grandfather and my position on the Board of Directors at the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) I have been able to see how embracing education changes the lives. 

The AIEF is just one organisation that offers Indigenous students from all over the country scholarships to some of Australia’s most prestigious and well resources schools. 

The AIEF was established in 2007 and I have been on the board since that time.  In 2011 184 secondary school scholarships were funded by the AIEF and 42% of the scholarships were for children from remote or very remote communities, like Broome, Thursday Island, Yirrkala, Palm Island, Pormpuraaw, One Arm Point and Bourke. 

Organisations like the AIEF are not the only solution to educating kids from remote and regional areas; they are just one piece in the puzzle.  Having passionate leaders in remote schools is another piece, engaging parents and the community in the education of their young people is yet another piece and building the employability of these students is another piece. 

In 2011 I travelled to India with a group of young Indigenous women, under the sponsorship of the Indian government.  The trip was focused around lifting people out of poverty and what tools you need in order to do that.  One of the fundamental tools needed to lift people out of poverty is education.  In every strata of society, no matter how rich or poor people were, it amazed me that people in India were and are embracing education. 

The people we met saw education as a tool that will lift them up through society.  We saw people fighting to get to school, to get educated, to get their kids educated and to build a better future for themselves and their communities. 

Education is about increasing the employability of our kids.  By giving an Indigenous person a job you don’t just change an individual’s life, you change a families life and you change the future generations. 

GenerationOne as a movement of people has one goal – to end the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.  One of the building blocks to do this is education and the other is employment. 

We ask all Australians to join with us to be part of the generation for change.  


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