What is the ASPIRE program?
The Aspire Program is an aspirational program of academic tutelage and personal mentoring, which has been built to advance the education and life possibilities of young Indigenous girls. The program takes its name from the noun Aspiration meaning ‘a hope or an ambition of achieving something’.
The Aspire program will be based at our Melbourne Learning Centre but will eventually have subsidiary locations around Australia.
The Aspire program runs throughout the year and regularly brings together groups of Indigenous girls aged between 8 and 18 years from urban and regional areas. Entrants to the program mainly come from households and schools that are already known to the foundation via programs and partnerships; although the program is also marketed to nearby schools and communities to attract new applicants.
Why do we need such a program?
There are two main reasons why such a program should exist:
Firstly, our nation is confronted with rising rates of illiteracy, school absenteeism, unemployment, poverty, family unrest, illness, and early death within the Indigenous community. These numerous and significant reasons are evidenced by a range of statistical measures and guides, not least from the records of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Secondly, as a nation we have a history of inequity towards women. Australian women have always fared second to men in choice and opportunity. As such, we believe it extremely important that such inequity be addressed over the longer term to affect a more harmonious community.
With these two reasons in mind, and historical evidence of Indigenous women rating poorly in both respects, it is timely that such a program has been instigated to change the prospects for Indigenous women in Australia.
What are the objectives of the Aspire program?
First and foremost, we aim to see the participants of this program meet and surpass the universal literacy and numeracy tests undertaken in Australian schools.
Secondly, we aim to assist the girls in their progression and successful completion of secondary school.
And lastly, while undertaking their studies, the program also aims to provide excellent mentoring and pastoral care for the girls as they look towards further education or employment opportunities. Such mentoring and pastoral care will give the girls the underlying mental strength to compete and succeed at their studies and beyond.
We aim to assist the girls in reaching their academic and personal goals, and to become the leaders of tomorrow.
How will the Aspire program achieve these aims?
We will achieve these goals by providing professional and flexible assistance via weekly after school homework clubs, monthly Literacy and Heritage camps, monthly aspirational presentations, and regular visits to heritage and community locations of significance. All of these aspects of the program have been designed to build academic success, awareness, understanding, confidence, self-esteem, a positive outlook, and general aspiration.
To help with the success of our program we will undertake these activities with the assistance of a wide range of organisational partners, family members, Elders and respected members of the community, celebrities, business people and members of government. We intend to provide the girls with a network of contacts, all of whom will become their teachers and mentors.
We see such a structured and collaborative pathway as an excellent means of achieving our program goals, and helping the girls thrive and become who they wish to be!