We are closing the gap

Post: We are closing the gap

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Girls Academy welcomes the new national agreement on Closing the Gap.

We are particularly heartened to see strong targets set for the education, employment and training of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

As the leading provider of in-school support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls, Girls Academy has been working to improve their future since 2004. Our community-led approach ensures our program is tailored to the needs of First Nations girls in each region in which we operate.

With the growth in the number of students in the program continuing through to Year 12, Girls Academy recently expanded its post school team, to provide even stronger support for the next phase of the girls’ lives.

This includes one-on-one mentoring, career information sessions, identifying work experience, training, and employment opportunities, and building relationships with corporate partners and local employers.

Pat Keay, general manager post school transitions, said the post school team had been building resources for Year 12s to ensure they were career ready upon graduation.

“We have intensified the collaboration of all team members to develop a consistent approach that aligns with the Australian Blueprint for Career Development,” she said.

“We want to ensure our Year 12s graduate with the best possible preparation for life-long learning after school.”

This approach is particularly critical in 2020, with COVID-19 highlighting the disparity in access to appropriate resources for Indigenous students. Girls Academy staff have intensified their focus on students at risk of not graduating as a result of the pandemic, encouraging them to re-engage with school and give themselves the best opportunities. 

The post school team have also increased support for graduates whose work or education choices have been affected by COVID-19, to ensure they get back on track or find an alternative career pathway.

Despite these significant challenges, Girls Academy is proud of its many success stories, with students in the program demonstrating time and again the difference it has made to their future.

Maryborough Girls Academy graduate Jade Matthews is now studying a double degree in nursing and psychology at Queensland University of Technology. She said Girls Academy had been a huge support throughout high school.  “Girls Academy was like a safe haven — the staff would always support you, praise you and encourage you to be the best person you can. This is where I built my confidence and self-esteem to be a strong independent person.”

Shania Cole-Presley became one of the youngest students to graduate Year 12, after personal tragedy almost put an end to her schooling. The Centralian Girls Academy graduate said Girls Academy had built her confidence and leadership skills, as well as providing practical support, such as transport to her police cadet traineeship. “If it was not for Girls Academy I would have dropped out of school, as I lost my brother nearly two years ago and I wanted to quit. But Girls Academy helped support me to finish.”

We are working towards a future where graduate stories such as these are the norm, a future where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls enjoy the same access to opportunities as their peers.

Girls Academy supports the targets for education, employment and training in the Closing the Gap agreement and welcomes the bipartisan support for the amendments. If we do not set targets and monitor the progress towards those targets, adjusting programs as required, we can not hope to change the future for the better.

As an organisation proud of its many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees, Girls Academy is also encouraged by the fact the new agreement has been reached in partnership with Indigenous people. It is only by working together that we can bring about change.

Media inquiries: Julie Hosking, 0497 777 324

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