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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7685


Ms O'TOOLE (Herbert) (10:48): I second the motion. This morning, I met with one of the most amazing organisations doing wonderful and empowering work with our First Nations people. In the chamber today, we have the AIME deputy CEO, Ben Abbatangelo, and AIME staff members Darren Brady, Steph Beck and Alex Jackson. I want to congratulate them on their excellent work and service to our First Nations young people. AIME is different. There is no other way to describe this program. It is a concept of the mind, a shift that actually works.

A recent study from McKinsey which investigated half a million students across 72 countries found that those with a 'growth mindset' outperformed those with a 'fixed mindset'—that is, those who believed that they could improve with hard work did actually do better. It also discovered that mindset was the most powerful individual factor in lifting a student's educational performance, even more so than socioeconomic status.

AIME is a mentoring program for our First Nations people. It empowers First Nations children with the intention of connecting university students with an Indigenous high school student—to connect those with power with those who are being left behind. Since its inception 13 years ago, the results have been truly outstanding, proving the findings in the McKinsey report. Where there is support for a growth mindset, students will succeed. Since the first group of 25 kids, 15,000 Indigenous high school students and 5,000 university students have been through the program. It is the largest volunteer movement of university students in Australian history. AIME has managed to close the education gap for this group. Seventy-five per cent of non-Indigenous people aged between 17 and 24 are in employment, university or further training. For our First Nations people, the rate is 42 per cent. AIME kids have closed the gap, heading into jobs or university at 75-plus per cent for the last six continuous years.

In further measuring AIME's impact, Australian universities have completed independent research that has found the program to be one of the best activities that university students can do during their studies. The same body of research has found what we may have expected—that these kids have an increased sense of strength of identity, purpose and aspiration. As an economic solution for governments, KPMG found that, for every dollar invested in AIME, the return on investment is $7 into the Australian economy. We are talking about a scaleable, cost-effective solution in alleviating disadvantage, one that keeps communities where they are and gives them a hand to band together. As a solution that crosses racial and social division, not only does this program change children's lives; its return is both uplifting and economical.

Recently, a letter to the world was co-signed by over 30 leaders, including 15 Australian university leaders and Australia's first female Governor-General, Quentin Bryce. It led with the sentence:

It's not every day that an idea that can change the world comes across your desk.

That is exactly what this program achieves. I have seen firsthand what this program has done for people in the electorate of Herbert. There are AIME members at James Cook University. If you want to lift people out of poverty, the most effective way to break the vicious cycle of poverty is through education. AIME ends the cycle of injustice by providing real mentorship that ensures our First Nations children get a fair go and a chance at a wonderful future. Getting a chance for a better life is important and getting a chance to break a cycle is critically important, because everyone needs to have a chance to achieve in their life.