On 16 October, students from Cobar, Peak Hill, Wellington, Nyngan, Broken Hill, Coonamble, Brewarrina, Coolah and Walgett will be arriving in Dubbo to attend their TAFE training as part of the Aboriginal Sparkies program – a local solution to address local issues to create a positive future for young Aboriginal students from remote NSW.
The cohort of Year 10 Aboriginal students will undertake a dual qualification in Electro Technology, an identified skill shortage area, and the HSC with language and numeracy support. Students will attend an orientation week this week, and then learn via weekly video conferencing sessions with four, three day blocks in Dubbo during the next two years. The language and numeracy, support will be customised and delivered during the blocks in Dubbo and in the students’ own communities.
The Aboriginal Sparkies program is run by TAFE Western and funded under the National Partnership Agreement on Youth Attainment and Transition. It is an innovative approach to engage Aboriginal students at risk of disengagement from education and training to help ensure they complete their schooling and help improve their pathways to employment or higher education.
Sue Skidmore, TAFE Western’s TVET Consultant, said “The project is aimed at improving student engagement with learning, connecting them to a career, and providing mentoring through TAFE, Aboriginal mentors and Mission Australia’s Youth Connections, case managers” she said. “Another objective is to increase the work readiness of the students through substantial work placement in the student’s communities”.
Ms. Skidmore added “It really is a team effort and would not be possible without the assistance of Centacare Partnership Brokers, Mission Australila, the schools and other community organisations. Whilst in Dubbo the students are accommodated at the Dubbo School of Distance Education.
The Aboriginal Sparkies model is part of TAFE Western’s commitment to closing the gap, and to significantly increase course completions for Aboriginal students. Students undertaking the Sparkies Program receive nationally recognised qualifications in a relevant learning environment, links with industry that may lead to traineeships or apprenticeships and increased social interaction.
You can read the story in the Daily Liberal here.