High school students celebrate Indigenous culture

Date: 26/10/2009

Leumeah High School students will raise awareness of Indigenous health and cultural issues at an all day event on Tuesday 27 October, 2009.

A group of nine Year 10 Indigenous students from the school have organised the day of Indigenous celebration and recognition as part of a mentoring program delivered by the University of Western Sydney.

The 'Indigenous School Student Mentoring Program', a joint initiative developed by Schools Engagement and Indigenous Outreach at UWS in conjunction with the Department of Education and Training, aims to build academic and study skills, increase awareness of further education and career options and encourage confidence in setting and achieving educational goals.

Manager of Schools Engagement at UWS, Anne McLean, says Leumeah High School students have invited Year 6 students from Ruse, Kentlyn and Leumeah Public Schools to take part in the celebration.

"The event was entirely the students' own idea and they worked with their mentors to make it happen. The students wanted to show Indigenous culture portrayed in a positive light and pass on some of the knowledge they have gained through the program to other students," says Ms McLean.

Activities on the day will include:
* Indigenous games
* A formal presentation on health and culture by Indigenous elder and educator, Aunty Mae Robinson
* Indigenous artwork creation
* BBQ lunch

Mechel Pikoulas, Deputy Principal of Leumeah High School, says the students thoroughly enjoyed planning their special day.

"The structure of the mentoring program allowed students to focus and renew their interest in their educational goals."

"The program has also significantly improved their participation in school life," says Mrs Pikoulas.

The unique mentoring program was piloted this year in two South Western Sydney high schools at Ambarvale and Leumeah.

Ms McLean says UWS will continue to work with the students as they progress to Year 11 and 12.

"The program is helping to improve Indigenous student retention rates, engaged learning and, over time, participation in tertiary education."

"The schools involved should be congratulated on their strong commitment and support, and for the considerable time and effort they have put into the project."

As a result of the successful trial, the Indigenous School Student Mentoring Program will be integrated into more high schools in 2010.

WHAT: Leumeah High School Indigenous Health and Cultural Awareness Day
WHEN: Tuesday 27 October, 2009 - 9.00am to 2.30pm
WHERE: Leumeah High School, Cnr Junction and Leumeah Roads, Leumeah.

Note to media: There will be a photo opportunity at 12.15pm to 1.00pm. Please notify the Media Unit prior to the event if you wish to attend.

Background Information

The Indigenous School Student Mentoring Program allocates each student in the program a trained UWS student as a mentor. The one-on-one approach allows students to acquire greater knowledge at their own pace, and the mentors also gain a greater understanding of the educational barriers and issues faced by Indigenous youth.

Other key components of the mentoring program include:

* An initial gathering and induction ceremony at the University to brief students and their families, teachers, DET staff and advisory committee members about the program;
* Monthly mentor visits to the schools including one-on-one mentor/mentee discussions and group work to develop and implement a school of community project; and
* On-campus academic enrichment workshops run by UWS staff and Indigenous educators.



Media Officer

Kristy Gleeson
02 9678 7085, 0414 018 498