About the Program

Aurora’s High School Program, The Aspiration Initiative (TAI) is designed to enhance academic achievement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students
The aim of the program is for all students to complete high school with the foundational academic skills necessary for engagement and success in higher education.

The Need

  • We are at a tipping point in the Indigenous education story in Australia. More Indigenous students are completing high school and going on to further study than ever before.
  • Success is building, but it is building too slowly.
  • Still 8.5% of Indigenous students achieve ATAR grades of 50+, compared with 44% of their non-Indigenous peers.
  • Year 12 completion rates for Indigenous students have improved in recent years, but still lag 24% behind the national average.
  • TAI supports young people whose strengths and potential might otherwise be underestimated to realise their full academic potential, so that we can continue the shift in conversation to one of proud, smart, ambitious Indigenous students with limitless potential and options for achievement. 

Our Impact

of TAI participants completed Year 12, compared to 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students nationally
of TAI participants attained an ATAR, compared to 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students nationally
of TAI participants transitioned to university directly from Year 12, compared to 25% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students nationally (by age 21)

Our Approach

TAI works closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students and their parents and/or carers for six years - from Year 8 through to the end of their first year out of high school. A big part of TAI methodology is engaging, facilitating and supporting families, high schools, and the young person’s community to link together, so that students can reach their full academic potential. 

Aurora provides every student with over 200 hours of individualised support each year, including:

  • 20 days of residential academic camps held in school holidays
  • ongoing strengths based case managed support for students and their parents/carers
  • tutoring and mentoring
  • academic resources and equipment they would otherwise be unable to access. 

As well as academic excellence, TAI focuses on strengthening cultural identity and creating a network of students who will support each other not only throughout high school but also in higher education and then on into their careers.

The program is implemented by skilled Indigenous staff, Elders, mentors and learning facilitators.

This link between cultural and academic enrichment is central to the pedagogy of TAI. Our approach fosters positive cultural identity building and helps to break down negative stereotypes.

This approach has been effective, with an independent evaluation of TAI in 2017 reporting that on completion of high school:

  • 100% of TAI students felt more confident they could achieve what they wanted in the future
  • 100% of TAI students said that connections with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students via opportunities such as TAI residential camps helped them to want to keep improving academically
  • 90% of TAI students said that learning about their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and community supported them to do well at school
  • 70% of TAI students reported that their families supported them to do well at school since they became involved in the program.