Empowering young Indigenous Australians through education

Research has long shown a strong link between low education achievement and early drug and alcohol abuse. This is fundamental to the work of the Cathy Freeman Foundation (CFF) who believe that closing the education gap from a young age is the key to achieving genuine long-term generational change in relation to substance misuse, employment, and breaking the cycle of disadvantage.

Empowering young Indigenous Australians through education

A new partnership forged

We have partnered with the CFF to support the delivery of education programs that are aimed at providing Indigenous children with a path towards a positive future.

The major four year partnership is the largest in the history of both organisations and will focus on the Horizons and Activities programs in four of the largest remote communities in Australia - Palm Island and Woorabinda in Queensland, and Wurrumiyanga and Galiwin’ku in the Northern Territory.

The programs are designed to improve outcomes for young Indigenous Australians by empowering them to stay engaged in their schooling through culturally appropriate education and activities, increase their Year 12 completion rate, and open their minds to new possibilities for the future.

The ‘Horizons Program’ gives 100 students each year an opportunity to join their peers from around Australia on an educational and aspirational week of positive role modelling, personal development, career goal setting and confidence building activities. Students will also have the opportunity to visit our operations in Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney and Brisbane to learn more about potential future career opportunities.

The ‘Activities Program’ on Palm Island is a youth diversion program that encourages school attendance and achievement via extracurricular sport, recreation and cultural activities, including after-school activities, sporting trips and tournaments such as netball and rugby league.

The partnership is twofold with our people also having the opportunity to interact with the inspiring students from these communities and see the impact our support is having on the children and their communities.

Education changing lives

The Foundation was established in 2007 and helps 1600 Indigenous children reach their full potential in partnership with the community, elders, and school leaders. Over the past five years, CFF’s programs have helped increase the number of students graduating from Year 12 on Palm Island by 350 per cent with crime statistics decreasing by almost 15% in the community over the past three years.

In an interview with the Herald Sun, Cathy Freeman said “the transformation today is simply stunning. Just the kids’ self-esteem, there is a real air of, yes, we can do this, we have got this, and we are doing this.”

“Education is what is going to change lives. When it comes to indigenous achievement, if I draw on my own experiences, if I hadn’t gone to school, I would not have been on that pathway to realising my potential. Particularly as an athlete, but also as an individual.”

The Foundation is now working towards 90 per cent of students completing high school.

An ongoing commitment

As part of our work with the Federal Government to address petrol sniffing in remote and regional communities across Northern Australia through the supply of low aromatic fuel, we have committed $3million to support Indigenous community projects.

The partnership with the CFF forms the cornerstone of this commitment and helps to deliver on our vision to respectfully work together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to assist them reach their destination, and in doing so build a diverse and enriched organisation.

Herald Sun, 4 June 2017, Luke Dennehy, ‘Cathy Freeman celebrating another big win, 17 years after she stopped the nation in Sydney’

Interested in learning more about our Indigenous Participation?

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