A review of Indigenous education for women and girls, ‘The Best of Every Woman’, commissioned by AMP and conducted by Effective Philanthropy was a useful starting point in considering which elements in design and implementation work for the Stars Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls. This report followed from the research published in 2008, ‘Our Children, Our Future – Achieving Improved Primary and Secondary Education Outcomes for Indigenous Students’.
Similarly, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare have reviewed results of a range of programs and have published detailed information about what works in design and delivery of programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Some of the key features of the program are therefore based on the evidence from this research, coupled with our experience working with Indigenous youth, women and communities. Key features include:
- Flexibility in design and delivery so that local needs and contexts can be taken into account
- Adoption of place-based pedagogies and initiatives that integrate the school-based program with the local community and the environment – so that activities and opportunities offered from school grounds vary between schools and across communities
so that they can respond to individual students/community needs.
- Continuity and coordination of services
- A well-trained and well-resourced workforce, with an emphasis on retention of staff
- Community involvement and engagement in both the development and delivery of
- The importance of building trust and strong relationships in order to enhance the affinity
between students and schools and so that students feel ownership of the program
- Sufficiently long-term, adequate and sustained investment of the initiative in order to
ensure that the underlying causes of the problems can be addressed
The Stars program provides full-time mentors for young women at school and addresses the different socialization, community expectations and life experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young women, as well as their particular needs and challenges.
The Stars Program is based on experience and review of the best available evidence, incorporating positive youth development frameworks, cultural appropriateness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and a gender lens.
While along the lines of Academy programs for boys, the Stars program is tailored to meet the needs of young women. While sport may still be a driver for some girls there are other drivers/attractors that will ensure the success of the program for girls.
To meet the needs of individual young women, a range of extracurricular activities will be offered including sports and physical activities, art, music and dance. Community activities and camps will also be offered to provide engagement incentives & personal development opportunities
Full-time, on site mentors are the key to the success of the program. Many of the benefits of youth mentoring correlate with the teaching of skills that aim to foster resilience and wellbeing, leading to increased social connection, community participation and self-confidence.
WHAT IT LEADS TO
The Stars Program measures its success of its programs by the outcomes it achieves in supporting its participants. Completion of Year 12 and successful transition into a sustainable career is an easy measure of success and we track this continuously.
We also look to see young women completing school who are well-rounded, confident, prepared for their future post-school with a broad range of life skills and a healthy approach to living.