Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience
Knowledge Circle Practice Profiles

Overview

Practice focus

Indigenous youth education, school retention, transition into university, further education or employment.

Delivered by

The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) Program is delivered by the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience Indigenous Corporation. The Corporation is a registered not for profit charity based in Redfern, Sydney. More information about the organisation can be found at https://aimementoring.com/.

Location(s)

In 2014, AIME was delivered in urban and regional areas in Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. In all locations, nearby university campuses housed the program (see list of partners organisations below).

Issue being addressed

The AIME program aims to address the high proportion of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander high school students not completing secondary school and/or not transitioning through to university, further study or employment at the same rate as their non-Indigenous peers.

Service type

Support services related to Indigenous youth education and mentoring, school retention and transition into university, further education or employment.

Target population

The target population group for the program is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander high school students in years 7-12.

Aims and objectives

Starting in 2005, the AIME program's original aim was to support Indigenous high school students, through mentoring and other services, to complete high school and successfully transition into university, further study or employment. AIME's current aim is to close the 'gap' between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students school completion rates and successful transitions from school. Specifically the program aims to support 10,000 Indigenous high school students, by 2018, to finish high school and transition to university, further education or employment.

Program basis

AIME provides a structured educational program (delivered in several Australian partner universities) that aims to give Indigenous high school students the skills and confidence to finish school and transition into university, further education or employment. AIME also connects students with post Year 12 opportunities in universities, further education or employment.

AIME has three delivery modes:

  • The AIME Institute: this delivers (through trained Indigenous facilitators) targeted courses for high school students at the campuses of partner universities. It delivers 49 hour-long modules that are tailored for each school year level. The content allows students to extend their current knowledge and has been designed (and refined) by Indigenous young people.
  • The tutor squad program: this involves trained mentors (all University students) travelling to local high schools to provide academic support for 15 sessions throughout terms two and three of the high school year.
  • One-on-one coaching, career support and post-school transition: this hands-on approach allows AIME staff to build a relationship with students throughout high school in order to provide the support and targeted opportunities as they transition into university, employment or further training.

Some examples of the modules provided by AIME include:

  • Year 7- Knowledge Equals Power Program: This introduces students to the program and instils the idea that maths and science are exciting options for their futures.
  • Year 8 - Game Theory: Students explore probability, game design and the tenets of game theory to demonstrate and learn the wonder of maths, science and engineering.
  • Year 9 - Interactive Program: This program focuses on confidence, communication skills and school engagement. Students work through modules related to drama, identity, respect and pathways to success.
  • Year 10 - Leadership Program: This program focuses on leadership, goal setting and respect.
  • Year 11 - It's Cool to be Kind Program: This program focuses on developing strategies to successfully complete Year 11 and establish the foundations for success through Year 12 and into university, further education and employment.
  • Year 12 - The Next Steps Program: This program focuses on what students want to do with their life and how AIME can help support that transition. The program gives the mentees the skills and tools they need to take that next step in life.

Cultural relevance

Local community context

Jack Manning Bancroft, AIME's Indigenous CEO, conceived the idea for a mentoring program while attending The University of Sydney. The program grew out of his frustration at the reinforcement of stereotypes of Indigenous success (eg. Indigenous people are only good at sport) and sought to combat this by showcasing to Indigenous students various Indigenous people who had achieved success in a broad range of areas.

From this beginning, Jack collaborated with other students (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) to develop content that would 'unlock the potential' of Indigenous high school students. In 2005 the program was piloted at a high school in Redfern with 25 Indigenous Year 9 students and 25 (mostly non-Indigenous) university student volunteers to act as mentors. Following the pilot, AIME was credited with assisting with a 40% increase in the school attendance of the pilot participants that year.

Since then, the program has expanded each year to offer a range of activities supporting thousands of Indigenous high school students across Australia. AIME also receives feedback from partners, staff and volunteers about how to improve the program in response to each community it is delivered in.

Involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

More than 50% of AIME's staff are Indigenous and Indigenous facilitators deliver the program to the Indigenous high school students attending the program. AIME's Board is also more than 50% Indigenous. In addition to this, Indigenous external researchers and AIME Indigenous staff are also involved in ongoing research and evaluation.

Cultural practices and materials

The program celebrates contemporary Indigenous culture and demonstrates the diversity of Indigenous lives and culture today by showcasing strong young Indigenous leaders and role models.

Evaluation

Evaluation status

An external evaluation of the program was completed in March 2013 (see: https://aimementoring.com/about/research/). AIME commissioned the University of Wollongong to conduct the evaluation.

Evaluation details

The evaluation aimed to answer the following questions:

  • What are the achievements and impacts of the Core Program?
  • What are the outcomes for participants (mentees) in the AIME Outreach Program?
  • Have the objectives of the Outreach Program been achieved?
  • What is the capacity of the Outreach Program as an outreach educational mentoring initiative for Indigenous people?
  • What are the current operational Outreach Program costs and what are the projected costs for expansion?
  • How can the Outreach Program be expanded?

The evaluation collected data through a mixed method design involving the observation of the program; interviews and focus groups with program facilitators, mentors and clients; review of AIME documentation and via a quantitative survey of clients. The survey involved a pre and post test comparison of whether the program contributed to changes in client behaviour, knowledge, skills or aspirations.

Indigenous researchers were involved in planning the qualitative and quantitative components. This included co-authoring the focus group and interview questions, being present at meetings to foster culturally appropriate research practices and designing and leading the quantitative component.

Throughout the evaluation, the research team (which included Indigenous researchers) worked with AIME staff to identify issues and areas of investigation. The phased nature of the evaluation combined with regular reporting, facilitated collaboration and opportunities to share knowledge.

Since the evaluation, the organisation has engaged the same research team to extend the completed research and continue to investigate the impact of the AIME program through to 2017.

The program is regularly being modified and refined in response to various forms of feedback including the evaluations, staff, annual client satisfaction surveys, board members and other key stakeholders.

Effectiveness

Most effective aspect

The organisation and the evaluation highlighted that several aspects of the program were fundamental to its success:

  • the program content was comprehensive, tailored to Indigenous high school students in Australia and supported clients on a long term basis (in total about 156 hours of mentoring and academic support from years 7-12);
  • the program had been developed and delivered by Indigenous people who act as role models to students;
  • the program provides real life opportunities for the students to extend themselves (e.g. internships for artists, ambassador programs); and
  • the long term commitment of the organisation over the last 10 years has created credibility in the community and helped engagement.
Demonstrated outcomes

The evaluation found evidence that strongly suggests that the AIME program is effective in strengthening clients’ school and post-school aspirations and opportunities, sense of engagement and sense of identity.

Key findings included:

  • The program reached its objective of encouraging better school grade progression rates for Indigenous students, compared with the national average for Indigenous students;
  • The different program delivery modes have comparable outcomes, as measured by school progression rates, school completion rates and the AIME client survey results;
  • AIME positively impacted the resilience of clients, their pride in being Indigenous, helped them make strong connections with Indigenous role models and culture, and enhanced their aspirations for finishing school and continuing to further study or employment.

Since the evaluation, the organisation's reporting has also demonstrated the success of the program. From 2010, AIME's results (distributed through the Annual Reports) have shown that AIME clients are finishing school at higher rates than their Indigenous peers and are 'closing the gap' with their non-Indigenous peers. In 2014, 93.2% of AIME's Year 12 mentees completed Year 12 (compared with 58.5% for Indigenous students and 86.5% for non-Indigenous students in the general population). In addition, 30.9% of AIME's Year 12 graduates transitioned to university in 2015. More information on AIME's annual reports can be found at http://aimementoring.com.

Other evidence

In 2013, the organisation also engaged KPMG to undertake an economic evaluation of the Program with the purpose of assessing the value-for-money of AIME. The findings included:

  • AIME students performed better than Indigenous students around the country, and reached levels of school performance close to their non-Indigenous peers;
  • due to the mentoring benefits for students, AIME students are likely to be more employable and earn more; and
  • the AIME program generates $7 in benefits for every $1 of cost.

The report is available at: http://aimementoring.com/about/research/

Resourcing

In 2014, AIME was funded from various revenue streams including: in-kind (37%), university partners (24%), corporate partnerships (14%), family donations and philanthropic partners (9%), government grants (8%), individual donations (5%) and interest and other income (3%).
AIME's university partners delivering the program include: Central Queensland University, University of the Sunshine Coast, Griffith University, Bond University, Southern Cross University, University of Wollongong, The University of Sydney, The University of Western Sydney, Australian National University, University of Canberra, Federation University, RMIT University, Monash University, University of South Australia, Edith Cowan University, Curtin University, Murdoch University and The University of Notre Dame.

Evidence base and opportunities

The evaluation of the AIME program included a comprehensive literature search and reference list containing a strong evidence base about Indigenous mentoring and school retention and transitions. This can be viewed here: http://files.aimementoring.com/pdf/aime-2013-independent-evaluation.pdf

AIME was also listed as an example of "what works" in the Productivity Commission's 2014 Report on Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage:
http://www.pc.gov.au/research/recurring/overcoming-indigenous-disadvantage/key-indicators-2014/key-indicators-2014-report.pdf

Other sources of information about strategies to improve Indigenous school completion, transitions to further education or employment and mentoring can be viewed here:
http://www.aihw.gov.au/uploadedFiles/ClosingTheGap/Content/Publications/2011/ctgc-rs06.pdf
http://www.aihw.gov.au/uploadedFiles/ClosingTheGap/Content/Publications/2010/ctgc-rs02.pdf
http://www.aihw.gov.au/closingthegap/ItemDetails.aspx?id=361&type=pb
http://www.aihw.gov.au/closingthegap/ItemDetails.aspx?id=382&type=pb
http://www.aihw.gov.au/closingthegap/ItemDetails.aspx?id=168&type=pb

 

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