By Jenita Iyalu
The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) is the first educational program of its kind with one simple aim: to bridge the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous graduates.
The frequently asked question of why aren’t there more Indigenous people in University is the inspiration for this national program now in its eleventh year of operation.
It is an unfortunate truth that Indigenous Australians are among the most disadvantaged when it comes to the big issues such as health and education.
According to the Index of Community Socio–Educational Advantage (ICSEA), 77 per cent of AIME students come from schools classified as being below average.
AIME is about breaking down these barriers and changing community perceptions towards young Indigenous people and the perceptions they have of themselves.
“It’s all about building their confidence because they’re at an age where they are really vulnerable,” says Murdoch AIME Program Manager Kenzie Dann.
“It’s about changing their state of mind, giving them the belief that they can accomplish things.”
AIME works by pairing Indigenous high school students with mentors through university partnerships that help provide young Indigenous people with one-on one coaching in an environment that promotes confidence and provides role models.
Nineteen-year-old Shannon Hart Cole is a beneficiary of AIME and a top three finalist in the national competition The Other Election.
“It will help impact and deliver a major change for Indigenous success and education for Indigenous kids in Australia,” says Shannon.
“It changed my whole perspective of life and the need to help my culture.”
The WA division of the program has recently expanded outside universities to higher learning institutions such as TAFE.
The most recent AIME initiative is in Kalgoorlie, which would essentially see AIME expand to young Indigenous people living in rural areas like Broome, Geraldton and Bunbury.
Mr Dann says much of the success of the program is owed to the AIME mentors, most of whom aren’t Indigenous.
“It’s actually better if you’re not Indigenous,” says Mr Dann.
“It tears down that other barrier as well, where they feel comfortable interacting and building a relationship with someone with a different background completely.”
You can learn more about AIME and how you can get involved here.