• L to R: Ayden McGregor-Baptista, Dale Haynes & Michael Coombes at the Smith Family Indigenous Youth Leadership Program Graduation (Supplied)Source: Supplied
More than 40 Indigenous students, supported by The Smith Family to achieve their Year 12 certificate, have graduated with around half looking forward to future tertiary education at university or TAFE.
NITV Staff Writer

18 Dec 2015 - 3:25 PM  UPDATED 18 Dec 2015 - 4:48 PM

The achievements of the Indigenous students were celebrated in Darwin at The Smith Family’s Indigenous Youth Leadership Project (IYLP) graduation ceremony in late-November.

Many of the graduates came from areas in remote and regional Australia, including Halls Creek in far north Western Australia, and remote areas of the Northern Territory including the Tiwi Islands and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankuntjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia.

Half of the students have since applied for or been accepted into jobs for 2016.

A further 19 have applied for University or TAFE, and two are taking gap years before starting their studies in 2017.

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CEO of the charity, Dr Lisa O’Brien congratulated all of the IYLP students at their graduation ceremony in late November and upon the official end of their schooling year.

“Working together with our partner schools, we also help the students to improve their leadership skills, broaden their educational horizons and develop their aspirations for the future,” said Dr O'Brien.

According to the charity, the Year 12 or equivalent attainment rate among all young Aboriginal people is 58.5 per cent – a figure significantly below the 86.5 per cent for the rest of the population.

“What these students have been able to achieve with a strong network of support and guidance is truly inspirational and we’re incredibly proud of their results.”

“For a child living in disadvantage, having someone support their education and provide them with learning opportunities can be the greatest gift.”

Every year, The Smith Family runs a Christmas Appeal to raise money for programs like IYLP and other out-of-school learning programs to help provide critical educational support for disadvantaged children (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) throughout the country.

“For most of us Christmas is a time for giving,” said Dr O’Brien.

“For a child living in disadvantage, having someone support their education and provide them with learning opportunities can be the greatest gift.”

This year, the charity aimed to raise $3.4 million by the end of 2015, which will be put towards the kitty required to assist 8,500 kids get an education and receive much needed support over the course of 2016 and beyond.

Dr O'Brien thanked Australia for all its donations throughout the past year, saying that were it not for the nation's generosity, programs like the IYLP would not be possible. 

“We sincerely appreciate the public’s help in ensuring disadvantaged young Australians have access to the programs they need to be able to catch up and keep up at school."