Working in partnership with local communities to maximise education outcomes. On Tuesday 16 October, more than 70 people came together for the Walking with African Communities Forum, hosted in partnership between the Australian Psychology Society (APS), the Victorian Cooperative on Children’s Services for Ethnic Groups (VicSEG), and Victoria University.
The forum brought together members of the African Australian community in the western suburbs of Melbourne to discuss their experiences with the education system and showcase their contributions and leadership.
Area Executive Director, Brimbank Melton, Bronwen Heathfield was asked to present on behalf of the western metropolitan areas of the Department. She was joined by Jenny Buckle, assistant principal at Melton Secondary College, and Robert Aduer, the school’s community liaison, to provide a school perspective.
A passionate advocate for supporting young African Australians achieve success in education, Bronwen said of the forum: ‘It was such an opportunity to listen to young African Australians and celebrate with my colleagues the positive role that education plays in enabling them to reach their potential, develop leadership skills, and be role models for all young people.’
‘The night also provided the chance to really listen to the community and engage in robust and brave discussions about what their concerns are. It reinforced for us as a system how important it is to work in partnership with our parents and local communities to maximise educational outcomes.’
Other speakers included a young African Australian woman, Nyanagak (Lizzie) Kuoth, and African community leader Abraham Jongroor, the community development coordinator at VicSEG.
Lizzie spoke eloquently about how education had enabled her to remove barriers to achievement, while Abraham spoke about running programs targeted specifically at African Australians at risk of disengaging from education.
Peter Streker, chair of the APS and organiser of the forum, said: ‘The forum showcased some great examples of young African Australians succeeding in education, work and life. It was also an opportunity to discuss issues of continued racism in schools and broader society, and tackle some of the negative stereotyping of African communities.’
School holiday programs
The Department is committed to reducing racism in schools and providing opportunities for students to remain engaged and achieve in education.
In addition to supporting students in school, the Department has also provided opportunities through school holiday programs for young people to participate in pro-social activities with program partners Melbourne Victory, Mushroom Group and the North Melbourne Football Club.
With more than 120 young people from culturally diverse backgrounds attending in Term 2 and a further 180 during the Term 3 holidays, the programs are engaging young people in sport, the arts and community engagement opportunities.
Planning is underway to offer school holiday programs in the summer break.