NASCA South Sydney Students’ hard work is paying off

25 October 2016Uncategorized

21 Aboriginal students from the South Sydney region have been taken on a rewards camp as a testament to a more than 90% attendance rate through the current school year. National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) Programs Manager and former Australian Sevens Rugby Union player Trent Dyer says “For these young kids to have the best opportunity to go on to the career they most identify with they know that coming to school is necessary.

Some are heavily into sport but not everyone however they all identify strongly with their Aboriginality. The fact that we are able to introduce programs that reinforce the strength of Aboriginal cultures means these young people are engaging better with school overall”. Wiradjuri man and South Sydney local Lyall Munro is the NASCA South Sydney Academy coordinator. He acknowledges that “Some of these kids may not have ever been encouraged to have their Aboriginal heritage as being front and centre in terms of being crucial to their life success. It is certainly something most of their parents and older family members did not get access to while they were at school.”

Attendance is only part of the aim of NASCA however and with the help of experienced Aboriginal educators such as Gumbaynggirr Man Hilton Donovan the attitudes towards Aboriginal cultures and kids has changed. Hilton started working at Alexandria Park Community School in 1990, five years before NASCA even began as an organisation. He says “We used to think, ‘well if they’re at school at least they are off the streets’ now the expectations of the students are much higher. In the past year 9 and 10 was the goal, now they want to finish year 12 and they’re thinking of TAFE, work or University. Having the NASCA people working in the classroom also allows us to offer more one-on-one support to those Indigenous students that need the extra help.”
This year three students that are part of the NASCA Academies program in South Sydney were also rewarded with NAIDOC week awards which not only serves to celebrate the heritage of the Indigenous students but also promote the strength of these cultures and allow non-Indigenous students and teachers the chance to celebrate Australia’s First Nations’ cultures and history.

“The only reason I got to school is because of NASCA. I wouldn’t go to another school because NASCA doesn’t work there.” Mitch

Joey*, a year 10 student recently discovered her Indigenous heritage and joined NASCA’s Academy and as a result has engaged much better with school since then. She says “The only access to Indigenous culture I’ve ever got is through NASCA”. Her parents have also noticed the change in her attitude to school since joining NASCA and have relayed this message to Trent.
Later in the year NASCA’s 72 students who are enrolled in the South Sydney Academy will get the opportunity to learn more about the opportunities that await them when they finish school and will be exposed to the pathways that lead to meaningful employment or further study through a Career Development camp. Lyall Munro says “Making sure the kids know that the hard work they are putting in will actually mean they can follow their own path and don’t feel stuck after school is why we have these career camps. Meeting other Aboriginal people who came from similar backgrounds and were able to achieve their dreams while identifying with their culture makes these kids proud and gives them real hope”.

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