Setting up for Success

Year 12 Townsville Stars took part in a two-day induction recently. The aim was to provide students with a range of strategies to support them through their Year 12 studies, as well as some information about future career and educational opportunities.

First, our Stars were inspired by guest speaker Dr Jacinta Powell, a local Indigenous GP, who provided an account of the many challenges she had to overcome to complete school, get into university and complete her medical degree.

A particular highlight for our young women was a discussion with two 2018 Stars graduates, who described the challenges they faced during Year 12 and how they were able to get through with support from family, friends and especially their Stars Mentors.

The young women then took part a ‘speed dating’ session where they moved around tables hearing from a range of employers and tertiary education providers, including Defence, Police, James Cook University, TAFE, Fire & Emergency Services and Paramedics. A great way to find out more about possible future pathways.

The next day our Stars were taken on a Retreat to beautiful Magnetic Island, where they had fun taking part in a range of challenges designed to build resilience and teamwork.

Our Townsville senior Stars are now well and truly set up for a fantastic final year of school!

June Oscar Visits Stars

Nhulunbuy Middle Years Stars were thrilled to receive a visit from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar yesterday.

The Commissioner took time out of her busy schedule to sit with the young women for a while and have a yarn.

She asked each of our Stars to tell her a bit about themselves and their families, and what they think keeps them strong. The girls felt relaxed in her company because she really listened to what each of them had to say.

June told our young women a bit about her own schooling years and how she progressed to where she is now. She also generously shared stories about places she’s been and the Indigenous peoples who live in other countries she has visited.

June’s willingness to spend time in the Stars Room speaking with our young women was a powerful statement to the girls, due to her very important role, her strong work ethic, and her firm belief that our young women can achieve anything.

The Commissioner’s message to our Stars was always to use their voice and never let anyone silence them as strong Indigenous women.

Staying Healthy, Staying Strong

Our Yirrkala Stars have been working with their Mentors on two important personal development pillars of the Stars Plan this week – Healthy Lifestyles and Wellbeing.

Personal hygiene was the focus for our junior Stars, with a talk about how and when to brush their teeth and why it’s important for their general health. The girls also made their own face scrubs and masks, finishing off their session with a facial.

Our middle school Stars spent time with their Mentors to complete their Stars profiles, which aim to obtain more information about the girls and identify the things they are good at and the things that really interest them, so that Stars’ activities are able to help develop their personal strengths.

The middle school session also involved a discussion about personal hygiene and the importance of keeping the skin clean and healthy, especially in the teenage years. What better way to round off the session than with an indulgent homemade facial?

All the Stars girls involved learnt a lot about looking after their bodies during the session – they loved having the facials and were amazed at how clean and soft their skin felt afterwards.

Stars Go On Vocation

Our senior Tennant Creek Stars have been busy working with their Mentors on their vocational development plans over the past few weeks.

This process gives our young women a chance to identify their own areas of interest and explore opportunities in the workforce, well and truly before they complete high school.

An important part of our young women’s vocational development planning is the work our Mentors and Transitions Mangers do to help them develop work-ready skills, often through part-time employment in the senior years of high school.

We are pleased to say that two of our Tennant Creek Stars, Deja and Tara, have already secured part-time employment at the local supermarket and Skye has gained a part-time position at the local pharmacy.

These employment roles, which the young women will fit around their schooling, will help them more fully understand workplace expectations and develop a range of important work skills, which they will need when they move into their chosen careers.

It’s always a joy for our Mentors to work with the senior Stars as they begin to think about possible career pathways and life beyond school.

Stepping Up to the Mike

Year 11 Thuringowa Star, Willow Wells, had to get out of bed super early last Friday to be at the studio of Townsville’s Indigenous Community Radio Station 4K1G right on 6.00 am and ready to step up to the mike with Breakfast Presenter, Sista Soul.

Despite having no experience in radio broadcasting, Willow spoke confidently about Stars and gave some examples of the types of activities she and the other students do as part of the Stars program.

All activities follow the Stars Plan, which is based on four fundamental pillars of personal development – Healthy Lifestyles; Wellbeing; Education, Employment and Training; and Community Culture and Leadership.

Willow spoke with passion about how Stars is supporting her and encouraged other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women to take advantage of the support offered by the program.

The 4K1G Presenter also gave Willow some community announcements to read on-air, and she did a deadly job!

What a fantastic opportunity for Willow to explore the world of radio broadcasting. A future career in the making?

Setting up for Success

Senior Stars students from four schools in the Northern Territory were recently brought together for a Year 12 Stars induction.

The aim of these annual induction sessions is to identify the skills and strategies our Stars will need to help them achieve their goals and reach their full potential during the demanding final year of school.

This year our NT Stars induction program began with a ‘speed dating’ session, which gave our young women a chance to get to know each other in a fun and non-threatening environment before heading off for dinner together.

The next day featured a range of guest speakers, including some former Stars graduates, who spoke about how they coped with the demands of Year 12 and how they have transitioned into life after school.

A range of employers attended the final session, which gave our Stars an insight into what employers look for when they are considering hiring a young person. Many of these employers have engaged with Stars Foundation previously and some already have Stars graduates working with them.

After this inspiring induction into Year 12, with the support of their Mentors, our Stars will identify their individual goals and develop a plan to achieve them.

AFL Gala in Tennant Creek

Tennant Creek Stars took part in the first of two AFL Gala days in Tennant Creek this week, with some of Collingwood’s AFL players coaching and encouraging the Under 15 Stars team.

The girls in turn showcased their deadly footy skills – and had a great time doing it!

The event was a fantastic opportunity for the Stars to band together in a fun environment and benchmark their skills against some professional players.

It wasn’t all about football though! Most of the professional players had ample opportunity to engage with the girls, sharing stories of their own achievements at school and their journeys to their current careers.

A healthy day full of physical exercise, but also a wonderful learning experience and a chance for our Stars to be inspired by the Collingwood players’ stories of success!

Driving into the Future

Super proud of five of our Yirrkala senior students, who were thrilled to receive their Learner’s Licences last week, after passing the permit exam last term.

With the support and encouragement of their Stars Mentors, the young women successfully completed the Drive Safe NT program as part of the Employment, Education and Training pillar of the Stars Plan.

In remote communities, a driver’s licence is particularly important because it enables people to travel the long distances required for them to take advantage of employment and training opportunities.

Research from The George Institute for Global Health confirms that there is a strong link between holding a driving licence and employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Those who held a driving licence had a four times higher chance of being in full-time employment or graduating from university, and were twice as likely to have a trade or certificate.

That’s why our Stars Mentors focus so strongly on supporting our senior students to overcome the many barriers to gaining a driving licence. These include lack of formal ID documents, the high cost of driving lessons and a lack of fully licensed drivers available to supervise learners.

Practical driver training for our Yirrkala Stars begins this week and these deadly young women are aiming high – with plans to get their Ps later in the year.

Well done and happy driving!

“This trip was the greatest experience of my life!”

At the end of year full of hurdles, determination, hard work and persistence, it’s important to celebrate!

This year, our Year 12 Pimlico Stars went on their very first end of year trip after the first year of Stars at their school. The destination of choice was Tasmania, as most of the students had never been there.

A quick stopover in Melbourne gave our young women a chance to visit the ‘Mandela: My Life’ exhibition at Melbourne Museum, as well as a tour around the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Museum with Cricket Australia’s Indigenous Engagement Specialist.

The next stop was Hobart, where our Stars walked the Tahume Forest on a steel canopy treetop walkway overlooking the Huon and Picton Rivers. It was great to see the girls face their fears and do it anyway!

Later they had an opportunity to explore a mix of old and new forms of government administration and public policy, with a visit to Port Arthur followed by some time at Hobart Town Hall, where they were hosted by the Mayor of Hobart, Anna Reynolds.

Ms Reynolds is a former student of Pimlico State High School and was delighted to take the students on a personal tour of the Town Hall and the Mayoral Office, answering their thoughtful questions about her personal and professional journey.

After some time in the State’s capital, a drive through the Tasmanian countryside to Burnie in the north sparked the students’ interest in the natural environment and conservation, which have been big issues in Tasmania in recent decades.

In Burnie, the girls visited the Little Penguin Observation Centre, where they were lucky enough to see a protected colony of delightful fairy penguins coming in from the ocean to the shore for nesting.

A stopover in Launceston included a visit to Cataract Gorge and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, which featured the National Gallery’s exhibition ‘The National Picture: The Art of Tasmania’s Black War’.

Not only was the trip a celebration of a successful last year of school, it also gave our young women an opportunity to further develop their personal strengths and resilience (relationship building and being away family), and think more about their employment and community action goals.

Year 12 student, Aigaris Day, said the trip was “the greatest experience of my life. I am the first person out of my whole family to travel to Tasmania, also to travel without my family”.

Fellow student, Victoria Blundell, said “It was an amazing trip which was well organised and thought through to give the Superstars a chance to tour, learn and grow toward higher opportunity. [Our Stars Mentors] were incredible in caring for 10 young women for a whole week and I can’t thank them enough!”

Stars Win Big!

Stars students have been awarded all four of the 2018 Mulumulung International Scholarships and will travel to the United Kingdom this January to visit some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.

The scholarships are offered through The Streets Movement Organisation and their corporate partner, Grant Thornton, and aim to provide educational opportunities, pathways and inspiration to high-performing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, particularly those in rural and remote areas.

Our Stars Mentors worked closely with these four amazing young winners – Ebony Pearson, Victoria Blundell and Taylor Naumann from Townsville and Anna Wommatakimmi-Chapman from Darwin – encouraging them to apply and supporting them to develop their successful applications.

The young women will travel to the United Kingdom to visit Cambridge and Oxford Universities, where they will meet with academic staff, current scholars and graduates, as well as undertaking cultural exchanges and some sightseeing!

On their return to Australia, they will have the opportunity either to engage further with international institutions or link into excellent higher education institutions closer to home.

Our Successful Stars

Taylor Naumann

” My hopes for my future are to go to university to study an area around medicine, maybe nursing or midwifery. My goal is to join the Royal Flying Doctor Service as I will be able to go out to the rural communities and do as much as I can to improve their health.

The Mulumulung Scholarship will help me discover all the different pathways that can help me to reach my goals. I have never travelled overseas before. I mean, moving from Mount Isa to Townsville was a big thing for me, now England! I can’t wait.

My Stars Mentors helped me be part of this trip because they gave me the support I needed to complete my application. I would not be able to go on this trip without their support … and I owe them everything.

My family are ecstatic and so proud with what I have been able to achieve. My father has always been the brightest and best role model for me and I am so happy to be able to show him that with his support I can do anything I put my mind to.

I hope to bring back stories of what I was able to achieve over there and show what opportunities are open not only to me, but to my family and community. I can also strive to show the younger kids in my community that you can do things, but you need to put your mind to it.”

Victoria Blundell

“My vision for my future includes attending university, preferably UQ in Brisbane, to study law in the hope to one day become a representative for Indigenous people in Australia. Looking deep into my future, I hope to be in Parliament, changing Australia for the better.

I think the Mulumulung Scholarship will help me gain more understanding of the world around me and I hope to use this knowledge in my work later in life. Being accepted into this program has shown me how the dreams for my future don’t have to be just dreams. It’s helped adjust my awareness of myself … that I can do the things I want to, if I work hard and believe in myself.

My family is overwhelmed with pride. They have always believed in me and my efforts. My Mum and Stepdad took me out for dinner to celebrate and my Dad and I screamed with joy over the phone! My Nan was speechless and my Abuela and Abuelo were so proud!

I hope to bring back a new knowledge of the world that will help me encourage a change in Australia. It may inspire me to work harder to achieve more experiences such as this, and I may even strive to study at a prestigious university. The Mulumulung Scholarship has opened new pathways that I can’t wait to explore!”

Ebony Pearson

“I hope to go to university to study a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science and continue on to do a Masters, so that I can go into a career in cancer research and diagnostic pathology.

The Mulumulung Scholarship will help me better achieve these goals by allowing me to get out some of my desire to travel, while keeping me motivated to study. This brilliant opportunity will help me academically and mentally beyond compare.

My family are immensely proud of my accomplishment and have been there with me celebrating and spoiling me – and for that I feel so lucky and blessed.

From this amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity I hope to bring back new experiences and skills that I can share with the people around me. I also hope to establish some connections with other communities, people and organisations and solidify my decisions about my tertiary education.”

Anna Wommatakimmi-Chapman

“I want to be able to help young people. I have experienced life-changing mentors during the last five years and I want to ensure that young people, specifically young Indigenous kids, have stability, support and love through their formative years and into their adulthood. This is important to me as I have seen the collapse of great support groups and as a result people close to me have lost their way.

Following my graduation from school, I am going to study a Diploma in Public Health at Charles Darwin University, and then I hope to study a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Anthropology and Sociology. These two areas of study will provide me with the knowledge about health and human interaction and the social structures that dictate our society.

This scholarship will help me refine my ideas and goals for the future. It shows me that I am not limited to my town, or even my country, in my academic aspirations. I think it will be highly beneficial, not just for my own clarity of mind, but also to show other young Indigenous kids that they are limitless.”

Stars Foundation
To support and enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women to make active choices towards realizing their full potential in all aspects of their development and wellbeing.