Bairnsdale girls enjoy a taste of university

Bairnsdale girls enjoy a taste of university

Students from Bairnsdale Secondary College were recently given a special insight into what it feels like to be a university student studying in Melbourne’s CBD.

As part of a unique, ongoing partnership between children’s education charity, The Smith Family and RMIT University, nine students got a taste of city university life.

The students, from years 10 to 12, which included both Aboriginal and other students involved in The Smith Family’s Girls at the Centre program, took part in the three-day camp, which focused on building their confidence, peer relationships, and tertiary aspirations.

The camp represents a collaboration between Girl at The Centre, RMIT’s I Belong initiative and the University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support centre, Ngarara Willim.

Over the course of three jam-packed days, students took part in a number of academic, cultural and social activities. These included enjoying interactive workshops and presentations from RMIT students and staff, as well as tours focused on familiarising themselves with the university environment, and the career opportunities available, if they decide to pursue tertiary education after high school.

As part of this, the girls participated in workshops on topics as varied as exercise science, virtual reality, conservation and land management, and DNA extraction.

The camp’s program also made the most of the group’s visit to Melbourne by including cultural visits to the National Gallery of Victoria, The Koorie Heritage Trust at Federation Square, as well as a live taping of the Marngrook Footy Show.

Anton Leschen, The Smith Family’s general manager in Victoria, said it was wonderful to see Girls at the Centre and I Belong unite each year to inspire Bairnsdale students

“At its core, the work of The Smith Family lets students connect their classroom learning to pathways through TAFE, university and work,” he said.

“It’s all about strengthening students’ social, emotional and academic aspirations. And that’s why our ongoing partnership with RMIT is so exciting.

“Our mission is to help young people grow and live fulfilling futures, and that’s why programs like Girls at the Centre and I Belong are so valuable. It’s about nurturing ambitions, it’s about boosting their rapport and peer relationships, and it’s also about building their confidence and leadership qualities.

“That really goes to the heart of Girls at the Centre. It’s exciting to see these girls grow, shape their futures, and sometimes also unintentionally find themselves role models for others – their fellow high school students, their family, and the community around them.”

Nicole Shanahan, manager of Indigenous Student Education at RMIT, said the program “provides Aboriginal young people the opportunity to explore their tertiary aspirations and learn more about programs and services that are available to them at RMIT”.

“The Girls at the Centre students were invited to explore academic and cultural programs while on campus, and meet current Aboriginal students at our Ngarara Willim Centre,” Nicole said.

“This program is just one example of the ongoing commitment RMIT has to supporting Aboriginal young people with not only their educational aspirations, but their lifelong learning,” she said.

Year 10 student, Lilly, was one of the Bairnsdale Secondary College students who attended the camp – her second time being involved. She said that once again she really appreciated “seeing what uni was all about”.

“The camp is really hands-on, which makes it really fun and interactive,” she said.

“The topics the workshops looked at were really interesting too. My favourites were the media and design workshop as well as the science session where we looked at DNA testing.

“I want to be a school teacher when I finish school, so I know the pathway I need to take. Visits like this are a great experience and I feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of going to uni one day. It’s really exciting.”

PICTURED: Nine Bairnsdale Secondary College students travelled to Melbourne recently for a taste of university life as part of an ongoing partnership between children’s education charity, The Smith Family and RMIT University.


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