Indigenous Student Programme
Christ Church’s Indigenous Student Programme began in 2005 with four students hailing from Broome and Halls Creek. In 2013, 17 boys from across the State, including remote communities such as Glen Hill, call Christ Church their home away from home. The programme continues to develop by providing students with excellent educational opportunities and ultimately, produce positive outcomes for the boys, their communities and the school community.
The programme grew from an association between teacher and esteemed WA football coach John Dimmer, and Garnduwa, an Aboriginal sporting and community organisation based in Broome. Mr Dimmer had worked with Garnduwa through Claremont Football Club’s Kimberley connections. The School saw an opportunity to offer boys, who were recognised as potential leaders amongst their communities, a chance to attend Christ Church.
The relationship between Christ Church and Garnduwa was forged through Garnduwa Chief Executive Alan Bishop, Garnduwa Kimberley Regional Programme Manager (Broome) Mick Albert and Headmaster Garth Wynne. Each year, Christ Church staff members and eight Year 11 students are invited to attend Garnduwa’s annual Indigenous Youth Leadership Camps. The camps bring boys from the East and the West Kimberley together, boys who are seen as future role models within their communities. The goal is to develop leadership among young indigenous students from these areas and make them aware of the pathways available. The camps also provide Christ Church students with invaluable insights into life in the Kimberley and traditional Aboriginal culture and activities. These experiences and relationships are then used to help new indigenous students adjust to life at the School.
Once at Christ Church, the boys are welcomed into the Walters Residential Community by Indigenous Programme Co-ordinator Jamie Foster. Mr Foster’s role is to mentor the boys and to help make the transition and integration process a smooth and supportive one. He then guides the boys towards the educational opportunities on offer and supports them in a number of ways. These include additional academic support, organising flights, scholarship support and funding assistance, developing pathways and acting as a liaison between the boys, elders, their families and school staff. This helps to develop and strengthen all the various relationships. Mr Foster has attended the Garnduwa camp for the past three years and in conjunction with the Head of Senior School, Roger Bayly, plays a central role in the scholarship process and in developing greater cultural awareness and professional development opportunities for staff.
Mr Foster believes it is essential to build a greater understanding and awareness of indigenous culture and the value it adds to the Christ Church community. “We are also developing the School’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which will provide us with a framework for the future that ensures indigenous opportunities and equality in modern Australia,” he said.
The Indigenous Student Programme is supported by Future Footprints, which is an additional support structure for indigenous students from regional and remote areas of WA attending residential schools in Perth. The Association of Independent Schools in Western Australia (AISWA), of which Mr Wynne is Chair of the Monitoring Committee, manages the Future Footprints programme. To learn more about Future Footprints, click here.
To read more about scholarship opportunities, click here.
For further information about the Indigenous Student Programme, please contact Jamie Foster on 9442 1784.