Natasha's cover image

Natasha CHISHOLM

Year of Award: 2011 Award State: South Australia Education > Specialised Education
Training > General
To explore successful models of school to work transition and alternative school programs for Indigenous students - New Zealand, USA, Canada, UK

Introduction:

I have worked in the Aboriginal education, training and employment fields in the Northern Adelaide Region at local and state government levels and through community based organisations for a number of years. First working with the wider community (adults) and then moving into the school transition sector. Over that period, I have seen how the lack of basic work readiness skills can widen the gap for our young people as they leave the compulsory education setting.

The School to Work Transition for Aboriginal students is often subject to barriers not experienced by the majority of non‐Aboriginal students the same age. Aboriginal student achievement rates are below that of non‐Aboriginal students for SACE completion, school retention and vocational and tertiary qualifications. In South Australia only 19% of the Aboriginal population have completed year 12 and our unemployment rate is approximately 3 times the rate of non‐Aboriginal people.

Therefore the transition of our Aboriginal young people into post school pathways is of the highest importance not just to our region and state, but nationally if we are to influence systemic change in education in order to break this cycle.

The benefits of post school transition are widespread and impact at a range of levels. Increases in school retention and SACE completion through school based traineeships, vocational education training (VET) and participation in ‘work readiness’ programs will result in Aboriginal students successfully transitioning into their first job, university or further training and breaking the current cycle of intergenerational unemployment.

Project Description:

To explore current and successful models of school to work transition and alternative school programs (both Indigenous specific and main stream programs). How can these models and programs be adapted to meet the needs of our Aboriginal young people to ensure they are given the opportunity to make a successful transition? I was particularly interested in how sustainable partnerships with industry (connected to education) were formed and maintained to benefit students.

Major Lessons and Conclusions:

  • For the sustainability of models such as The WORKABOUT Centre, partnerships with major industry are essential to ensure success. 
  • Indigenous people throughout the world are suffering the same barriers to accessing education, training and employment opportunities.
  • The inclusion of health services within the educational institutions is critical for improved outcomes.
  • We are doing some things right and people are interested in learning from us aswell – sharing of information generates new models.

 

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