Girrawheen Girls Academy helps Aboriginal girls get empowered


Girls Academy students, including Kristi Morris (front, second from left) and Taleah Boynes (back left) with development officer Teagan Climo (left) and project manager Samantha Eaton (right). Picture: Martin Kennealey d473400
Girls Academy students, including Kristi Morris (front, second from left) and Taleah Boynes (back left) with development officer Teagan Climo (left) and project manager Samantha Eaton (right). Picture: Martin Kennealey d473400

A PROGRAM aimed at empowering Aboriginal girls is already having effect at Girrawheen Senior High School.

The Girrawheen Girls Academy was established at the school this year and offers a dedicated space for the 42 students to meet before, during and after classes for support and assistance.

Program manager Samantha Eaton said it sought to increase school attendance, improve graduation rates, help with post-school transition and options, provide academic support and encourage participation in extra-curricular activities.

“It’s all about empowering our girls to continually improve their attendance at school,” she said.

“I love it, it’s great, I’m really passionate about it.

“The development of some of the girls is amazing.

“A highlight has been having an environment where the girls can feel safe and confident and able to be themselves.”

Year 11 student Kristi Morris said being part of the academy helped guide her towards her goal of getting her Tafe qualification to become a personal trainer.

“It’s been really good, I feel it’s helped me with my academics,” she said.

“I wasn’t really close with the other girls before but we’re basically a family now.

“I feel like I can tell Sam anything.”

Kristi will be the first high school graduate from her family and believes it will help inspire her younger sister to follow her.

“It feels really good and after me there could be other people,” she said.

Taleah Boynes is in Year 10 and will study ATAR next year.

“The academy has really opened my eyes to more opportunities available,” she said.

“Last year I was confused where my career would go but the academy really helped me create goals and actually have somewhere to go.

“I didn’t even think I would graduate. I didn’t really have any goals.”

Now Taleah wants to attend university and her goal is to become a lawyer.

She said they benefitted from an after school homework club, as well as support for any personal issues experienced, and credits Ms Eaton with helping her realise what she could achieve.

Ms Eaton said she enjoyed seeing the impact it had on students’ attendance rates and them recognising their potential.

“It’s about trying to break the girls’ and family cycles,” she said.

“It’d be great to see more academies around Australia to increase the levels of young Aboriginal girls being able to have the opportunity to gain graduation, have good experiences through school, see more go through university and get amazing careers.”

“Having this support, it helps these kids through their education.”

The academy students also give back to the community by participating in volunteer work with local charity groups.

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