TAI Academic Enrichment program National Camp
Monday 9 February 2015
The Aspiration Initiative (TAI) academic enrichment program National Camp, held on Ngunnawal Country at Birrigai, brought together 70 Year 11 and 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from NSW, Victoria and WA, 6 community Elders from across Australia and 20 TAI staff members to share knowledge and stories, build connections and take part in activities at the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Canberra (UC).
National Camp theme and activities
The theme of this Camp was “choice". Students were encouraged to think about the ways in which our options and choices are increased through knowledge. They also reflected on how they have grown over the last 3 years since they started TAI’s program, what their options are for the present, and how they can begin to make informed decisions about their future. To encourage thought and discussion throughout the Camp, students were guided by Elders and staff as they worked through The Little Book of Names and Shadows, a TAI resource of key program themes, issues and questions.
Integral to the week were visits to ANU and UC The visits gave students a chance to familiarise themselves with the campus and support centres, speak to faculty staff about courses and ultimately experience life as a university student. These visits came at a pivotal time in TAI students’ educational journeys, where many are finishing senior school and starting to contemplate their options for further study and careers.
At the end of the week students and staff were joined by 40 of the Program’s supporters for a networking dinner at Bruce Hall, ANU. Students were able to connect with and hear from organisations and individuals from the local community and also representatives from the government, philanthropy and university sectors. Guest speakers on the night (in order of appearance) were ANU Pro Vice Chancellor, Richard Baker, Ngunnawal Traditional Owner Aunty Louise Brown, ANU Deputy Vice Chancellor Marnie Hughes-Warrington, National Coordinator Tackling Indigenous Smoking and UC Chancellor Dr Tom Calma and ANU Program Director Asmi Wood.
Dr Tom Calma addresses TAI academic enrichment program students at National Camp dinner
"Connection to country and connection to culture is what’s really important for us and in this program "TAI" we are creating a whole person. It’s not just about academic achievement, it’s about how you achieve as yourself, and your own personal development. It’s also about your understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, and the place that you hold in that whole situation – understanding our history and understanding our future" - Dr Tom Calma
TAI student reflection
Reflecting on her time in the Program, Chelsey a TAI student from Victoria says, “The relationships I have built and knowledge I have gained throughout all my years being part of TAI’s academic enrichment program have been those that only the people on this journey will ever understand. Friendships that will last a lifetime, outer support networks that go on forever, opportunities that could take us wherever we wish to go, knowledge beyond our years and a connection to our culture that hits so close to home it can be overwhelming at times. This program and all that is involved has truly changed my entire future. University has never been so available to me and I am only waiting eagerly for what the years to come bring.”
Next steps for The Aspiration Initiative academic enrichment program
As the school term begins, TAI’s program will continue to work closely with students, families and schools to support them through Year 11 (WA) and Year 12 (NSW and Vic).
TAI’s next state-based camps will take place in March and April, and will have a strong emphasis on study intensives as they prepare for their final high school exams.
For more information on TAI’s academic enrichment program, please visit the TAI website.
The Aspiration Initiative academic enrichment program is a collaboration of the Aurora Project, Charlie Perkins Trust and the University of Canberra.
The Aspiration Initiative academic enrichment program is jointly funded by the Australian Government Department of Education.