Indigenous winter camp at Ormond College

September 16 / 186

Late last month 28 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students arrived at Ormond College to commence a five-day culturally enriched, STEM focused program at the University of Melbourne. The young people ranged in age from 12 to 18 years, and were drawn from areas as far afield as Brisbane; Portland, NSW; Mildura; Robinvale; Wodonga; Kyabram and Bundoora. 

This is the third year the Indigenous Academic Enrichment Program (IAEP) Winter Camp has been held. The Winter Camp is one component of a broader, federally funded program which seeks to raise the aspirations, enhance the social cultural navigation capacities, and increase the academic achievement, of a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from schools ranked low on the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage. 

Students participated in activities as wide ranging as lectures on the human genome project, programming robots, Billibellary’s Walk, investigating the use of forensic evidence used during the Azaria Chamberlain trial at the Gene Technology Access Centre, making sustainable instruments at The Channel at the Arts Centre Melbourne. They visited Melbourne Museum and spent time at the Bunjilaka Centre, watching Deborah Cheetham lead a rehearsal of the Reconciliation Choir.

The IAEP is a unique collaboration among Murrup Barak, Ormond College and the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. As well as providing an enriching academic, cultural, and social experience for the students during the program, it also provides opportunities for teacher candidates from the Master of Teaching (Secondary) program to work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. 

Coupled to the camp experience is on-going work with teachers in schools. This work is designed to assist them in supporting the aims and aspirations of the students once they return to their schools.  

“The camp is the best thing that has happened to me and I will always come back to the University as long as I am welcome,” said Portland student Nathan.

Catrina from Tallangatta described the winter camp as a “fantastic experience for young Indigenous people to get an idea of what university is like,” while Letitia from Brisbane said the camp opened her eyes to so many different fields and support systems within Melbourne University. 

Story by Barbara Kameniar


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