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An exciting and innovative new Indigenous AFL program has been launched in South Australia, which aims to provide an elite training environment for Indigenous students who demonstrate a commitment to achieving excellence in both sport and education.
This is a joint initiative between the Port Adelaide Football Club and the South Australian Sports Training Academy (SAASTA), the Aboriginal AFL Academy is the first of its kind in the national game.
South Australia’s executive director of Aboriginal Education David Rathman, says the program provides an opportunity for success, which is critical in building a culture of success for young Aboriginal people.
'They’ll need to ensure that they've got something beyond that, that’s got some future for them and allow them to participate in the community as well as gain employment, maybe go on to further education and higher education, but certainly to encourage them to see schooling as an important long term commitment, as opposed to the short life that sport can provide for them.'
The academy will include a squad of 30 players who will spend one day each week at Port’s home, Alberton, completing a Cert III in Sport and Recreation.
The students will receive tuition from a range of experts, including lecturers from TAFE SA, as well as Port Adelaide and SAASTA staff, but importantly, be mentored by Port players and SAASTA mentors.
In order to be considered eligible for the Academy, participants must be enrolled to complete their SACE at a South Australian school, maintain a minimum 80% attendance rate across all subjects throughout the school year, achieve academic success in all subjects (C grade or better) and adhere at all times to the school’s behaviour management code.
Last year, almost 70% of Aboriginal students in South Australia stayed on to Year 12, which is the highest retention rate in the nation.
'We put that down to the fact that we have a concerted effort, with the support of our colleagues in secondary schools, to try and maintain those students in schooling,' Rathman says. SAASTA has played a significant role in this effort, he said.
'In terms of the SACE (South Australian Certificate of Education), we’ve tried to increase the number of students completing the VET elements of the SACE, so getting students to complete Certificate III while they’re at school.'
'Part of that’s been backed up by a program we call Keeping them on track, and this program aims to monitor the progress of students, so with the support of our colleagues in schools who ensure we’re giving intensive support to those students as they go through the system. Keeping them on track is a very strong, important part of that support structure.'
Source: Australian Teacher Magazine