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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7687


Mrs ELLIOT (Richmond) (10:57): I too rise to speak in support of the member for Rankin's motion which recognises this wonderful organisation, AIME.

Mentoring is vitally important. Research demonstrates that mentoring can have a positive impact on the behavioural, academic and vocational outcomes of vulnerable young people. And we know that mentoring is used throughout education to improve inclusivity in the classroom, to assist learning, to support vulnerable students, to promote positive links to the wider community and to enable students to benefit from that important support from their peers. And it seems an effective tool to assist in ending a cycle of disadvantage and inequality.

Shamefully, inequality and inequity are still present, whether in the form of intentional and vocal bigotry and bias or through systemic and generational barriers. Indeed, shamefully, just last week in our parliament we saw racist, bigoted and hurtful comments made. I stand with all those who forcefully reject those extreme views and continue to fight against those views. This is an example of one of the many barriers faced and where we must have change.

Of course, one of the biggest barriers we have to remove is difficulty in access to education. We know that inequality extends to education, with many people—especially young Indigenous people—not accessing educational opportunities. Factors leading to the inequity are many and varied. There are many systemic barriers which we as individuals, communities and government must work to break down. We have to provide the support, encouragement and funding to mobilise people to get involved.

It is this guidance and mentoring that is proven to assist many students to navigate decisions around which paths are best suited to them. Organisations like AIME are helping so much to break down these barriers through the effective medium of positive mentoring, which works towards bridging and closing the gap, and providing guidance and support for Indigenous students through the transition from high school into their adult lives.

As we've heard, AIME was founded by Jack Manning Bancroft in 2005 when he was only a 19-year-old university student. I might add that Jack's mum, Robyn, lives in Byron Bay in my electorate. Her artwork is recognised and well-known right around the world. Since AIME's foundation, around 15,000 students from high school have been mentored by over 5,000 university students. This is incredible growth from the 25 young people in Redfern that Jack began with. At 22, Jack was a CEO. In 2016 he became the youngest person in Australian history to receive an honorary doctorate, from the University of South Australia. This followed a number of awards and recognitions, including an honorary fellowship from the University of Western Sydney, a Healthy Harold education award, the University of Sydney young alumni of the year award, New South Wales Young Australian of the Year, an Australian Human Rights Medal and GQ Man of Inspiration.

AIME has also won numerous awards for its mentoring program, as featured in many articles in The Sydney Morning Herald, in the AustralianFinancial Review and also featured on television, The Drum and on The Project. Fourteen years on, the organisation is now branching out and running a global campaign in Uganda and South Africa. AIME has over 100 staff working around Australia in 40 different regions to bring the promise of Indigenous success to life. Seventy-three to 78 per cent of AIME students aged 17 to 25 are attending university and other training or are in employment. Historical data shows a comparison of only 40 per cent of non-AIME students in the same position. So this is a proven success; Indigenous students who complete the AIME program finish high school and transition to university, employment or other further training at almost the same rate as non-Indigenous students, effectively closing the gap. This program is clearly working. It is effective and has demonstrated a clearly positive impact on the lives of people involved, people like Taylor Laurie, who lives in my electorate of Richmond, who has been both a mentee and mentor for AIME.

So, like my colleagues here today, who have all spoken in support of AIME, I too call on the government and encourage them to explore this very, very successful model of mentoring. We know that it works. We know how successful it's been. We need to look at how we can strengthen and extend programs such as this to help address both Indigenous inequality and indeed the quality of life and educational opportunities for others who could really benefit from the success of mentoring.

The Closing the Gap report recognised that a common feature of programs that successfully encourage an increase in Indigenous attendance of school was creative collaboration between families and the community. AIME has been so successful in building on such collaboration since 2005. I commend their outstanding work and look forward to seeing how models like this can be adopted elsewhere. I commend Jack and everybody else involved with AIME. It is a hugely successful mentoring program offering such great support and guidance to young Indigenous people. Congratulations.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Rob Mitchell ): The question is that the motion be agreed to. There being no further speakers, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.