26 Jul 2023
Elders and inspiring Aboriginal community members will play a key role in a pioneering homework club initiative supported by The Ross Trust.
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) runs the Koorie Kids Homework Club, which provides a nurturing and culturally safe space for children and teenagers that fosters academic success and strengthens cultural connections.
The Ross Trust is providing a $150,000 grant to VAACA over three years for the club in Frankston, which both supports the academic needs of children aged 5 to 17 and assists parents and carers in providing a learning environment at home.
The program provides qualified tutors, incursions from health providers, cultural activities and connection with community and Elders during school terms, once a week.
The Ross Trust Senior Program Manager Meghan Weekes says that VACCA is the largest organisation of its kind in Australia but that its work is widely unknown and undervalued. The organisation, which has been operating for more than 45 years, provides life changing and impactful outcomes for Aboriginal communities, she says.
“This quality, culturally appropriate program will ensure children are given the opportunity to thrive by engaging in school, excelling in learning and well placed to mitigate disengagement or other social and educational barriers children may be facing,” Meghan says.
“We know that VACCA is ideally positioned to support Aboriginal students and their family or carers by offering additional support programs when needed, including cultural, emergency, family services and family violence support services.”
Meghan says the weekly sessions have been shown to reduce disengagement from school and increase student confidence and wellbeing.
“Staying in school and regular attendance is crucial to ensure the best results for any student, especially to ensure they graduate high school,” she says.
Over the next three years, it is estimated that VAACA’S Koorie Kids Homework Club will benefit about 75 students. As the benefit spreads throughout the family unit to include parents, carers, siblings, and community the indirect beneficiaries increase to over 500.
“We also know that VAACA staff go above and beyond to support the children and young people in their care, with staff sometimes picking students up from school to ensure they are able and willing to attend these important afterschool sessions,” Meghan says.
The program’s success will be measured in ways including tracking attendances at the club and student feedback through yarning circles. VAACA aims for the program to be rolled out across Victoria and to be considered for evaluation for the Federal Government’s Australian Institute of Family Studies.