According to the Closing the Gap report, in 2017, the national school attendance rate was 83.2 per cent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. This compares to an attendance rate for non-Indigenous students of 93.0 per cent, resulting in a gap of almost 10 percentage points. This attendance rate drops as low as 64.6% in very remote areas across Australia.
To combat this challenge, a charity in Western Australia is using netball to produce some stellar results in getting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls to attend school.
Shooting Stars operates in regional and remote areas offering a netball skills program to young girls. The program has a clear focus on education and wellbeing sessions. Each term there are special excursions offered as a reward for all the hard work the students put into their education, behaviour and looking out for one another. Primary and Secondary students are rewarded an appropriate age trip in mind to somewhere in their region
The goals of the program are to:
- Lead innovation across all areas of the organisation, and throughout program delivery
- Promote growth and engagement in local communities
- Empower young women with a sense of self and connectedness to culture
- Maintain an ongoing connection to netball and sport
The program has eight teams across the state including; Carnarvon Breakers, Derby Storm, Halls Creek Starlets, Leonara Lightning, Mullewa Magic, Meekatharra Queens, Narrogin Wheatbelt Warriors and Laverton.
Shooting Stars works with the local community, schools and service providers to affect change to the lives of more than 350 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students thus far. 25% of the girls have improved their attendance term on term and 50% are maintaining an average 80% attendance rate.
Now that school attendance has been improving, Shooting Stars aim is to grow the number of young girls support to 1,000 by 2021, with consideration to develop and expand into other states.
This week, on August 4th, was National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, a national day dedicated to celebrating our children. So, this Thank You Thursday, we give thanks to the team at Shooting Stars for all they’re doing to improve educational outcomes for girls across Western Australia.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.