More than 150 Aboriginal students from across the state recently came together in Adelaide to learn more about becoming work ready. The Aboriginal Career Exploration (ACE) program, held by South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academy (SAASTA) and the Workabout Centre, targets year 10 students and supports them as they figure out their pathways.
The program has helped students like Kayla from Port Augusta, who is enjoying learning in a classroom with a teacher, after doing mostly online school last year. Kayla wants to be a nurse and is currently studying community service, learning about stress, child safety, and communication.
For Hannah from Port Pirie, the program is developing her essential life skills. “One of the courses is working with diverse people. I meet a range of people who have different personalities, different needs. So it's kind of fitting in perfectly with my lifestyle at the moment,” she says. “It's definitely a skill that I love having, knowing that I can work through any situation that I need to.”
Jacob, the SAASTA Coordinator at Whyalla High School, drove his students from Whyalla to Adelaide for the program, and he says the long trip is worth it to see the students thrive. "I definitely think a program like this is beneficial," he says.
"I've watched former students find their career path and become a diesel mechanic and an aged care worker. I had a year 10 student who didn't know what he wanted to do, but in year 11 he got back on track, got his SACE and is now an Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer at a primary school."
Whyalla student Talisha, who wants to study law or psychology at university, says the program was educational. “The program helped me realise there’s a lot more to getting a job than you realise,” she says. “For example, the cover letter. I didn’t realise you don’t just have to write about why you want to work somewhere, but you can also include relevant things about yourself too.”
On top of the learning benefits, it’s a special opportunity for the students to socialise with other SAASTA kids from all over South Australia. Talisha says, “Everyone’s the same but we’re all different too.”