Sports program to improve Indigenous University enrolments
While the mercury soared this week, 100 Indigenous young people spent the week sweating it out on the University of Queensland’s St Lucia sports fields to whet their appetite for academic life.
The ‘Indigenous Youth Sports Program’ provides an opportunity for school students to be exposed to university in the hope of encouraging more young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to choose tertiary study when they finish school.
The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health developed the program with Inala Indigenous Health Service, Education Queensland and The University of Queensland, in response to the identified priority of increasing the numbers of Indigenous young people studying at university.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are half as likely to undertake tertiary study as non-Indigenous school leavers,” says Adrian Carson, CEO of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.
“Last year some parts of the South East had no Indigenous young people at all enrol in university study.
“And with South East Queensland’s Indigenous population larger than the total Indigenous population of Victoria, or South Australia – we have the potential to make a significant contribution towards closing the gap in terms of Indigenous higher education outcomes.
Professor Cindy Shannon, the University of Queensland’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education) is passionate about the program. “This unique initiative is vital for developing future Indigenous university students. We’re meeting a critical need to inspire and build the leaders of tomorrow,” says Cindy.
“Sport is the bit that attracts the young people to the program,” says John Brady, Program Coordinator.
“They get a week of physical activities and then the classroom-based sessions help them come away comfortable with the idea of university study. Many have never considered uni because no-one in their family went.
“There’s a real buzz. Community mentors like health workers and teacher aides are involved. Many of them are getting a taste for uni life themselves. A double win,” says Dr Chelsea Bond, Research and Teaching Manager of Inala Indigenous Health Service.
The Indigenous Youth Sports Program is based on the very successful National Youth Sports Program that has been running in the USA for 40 years and has seen significant improvements in university enrolments for African American students.
The program began in Australia in 2010 with its week cut short by the Brisbane floods. Funding is provided by Department of Health and Ageing, Brisbane City Council, Education Queensland and The University of Queensland. The program is supported by the Inala Indigenous Health Service and Inala Wangarra.
Spokesperson: Adrian Carson, CEO, Institute for Urban Indigenous Health
Spokesperson: John Brady, Program Coordinator, IUIH