Words: Leah Vlatko
What happens when you mix a passionate team of mentors with Indigenous high school students brimming with potential? AIME magic happens.
AIME (Austalian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) is an organisation that is changing the face of Australia’s education system, actively breaking down the barriers that prevent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth from accessing higher education using the power of encouragement, support, and good vibes.
The organisation pairs university students, the majority of which come from a non-Indigenous background, with Indigenous high school students, thus fulfilling the joint goals of creating positive relationships across cultural backgrounds, and also investing encouragement and support into the high school careers of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Significantly, AIME is not about ‘helping’ Indigenous youth. Part of AIME’s values include understanding that these kids are already successful, unique, and important, they just need to realise this.
Tahlia Coulter, a mentor with AIME Notre Dame Fremantle, describes being a mentor as akin to being part of a cheer team, “being a mentor means empowering our mentees to achieve their goals and reach their potential. They all have a phenomenal amount of potential and as a mentor I hope I can help them realise their potential and achieve their dreams,” she said.
Clare Thompson, Assistant Program manager at Notre Dame, is a testament to the impact of AIME on the lives of the mentors as well as mentees, “I can say that AIME has completely changed my life and had a huge impact on the person that I am today. When a mentee has the courage to get up and speak in front of a room of people, and says that AIME has had even a small impact on their lives, it makes all our hard work completely worth it. Being able to witness someone’s journey is really special, and that is probably the most special thing about working for AIME.”
Whatever they are doing, it’s working! From 2015-16, 76% of AIME’s 533 Year 12 graduates transitioned to a university, employment or further education pathway. This exceeds the national non-Indigenous rate of 75 percent of 18-25 year-olds participating in post school education, training or employment, and the national Indigenous rate of 40 percent.
In WA, the universities that are currently partnering with AIME are Curtin University, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, and the University of Notre Dame. To fund this important mission, the universities are banding together to bring the community ‘KiNDLiNG’, a concert showcasing local talent in celebration of Indigenous success.
Performing at KiNDLiNG alongside a variety of talented WA creatives is Shaquille Walker, an mentee from the AIME Notre Dame program. Walker boasts a unique brand of dance, performance, and story telling that has secured him a trip to Sydney to take part in AIME workshops alongside other AIME mentees from around Australia.
If you would like to support AIME and the amazing work they do, a great way to get involved is through coming along to KiNDLiNG this Friday Night at 7pm. Tickets are available at a neat price of $30 (or $100 if you’re feeling VIP) and get you 12 acts showcasing a wide variety of talent. John Curtin Performing Arts Centre, be there or be square.
Additionally, if you have been inspired by the lives AIME is changing, there is a way you can be part of the story. Joining AIME and actively investing in the lives of the next generation is something that any university student with a bit of compassion, understanding, and a working with children check can do. Check out www.aimementoring.com to find out more.
‘KiNDLiNG’ concert is taking place this Friday night at John Curtin College of the Arts. Tickets are available here.