Growing up with people who have a different heritage, culture and perspective than your own can have a profound impact on your life.
At Melbourne Grammar School, we value the two-way education exchange that comes from the interaction with Indigenous families within our community and the presence of Indigenous students in our classrooms.
However, there are often financial and geographical barriers for Indigenous boys seeking to attend Melbourne Grammar School. Melbourne Grammar School’s Indigenous Bursary Programme aims to create places for 15 Indigenous students in any given year. During 2006 - 2017, 43 Indigenous students benefited from a Melbourne Grammar education, as a result of the School’s own financial investment and that from other funding sources. In fact, funding from donors and from the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation has already contributed $1.6 million towards our $7.5 million goal. But the ripple effect of these bursaries extends far beyond financial support.
"This programme supports ambitious Indigenous boys to achieve, and it also shows their wider families and communities what’s possible," says Robbie Ahmat, Melbourne Grammar’s new Indigenous Programme Manager.
"Many of the young Indigenous men coming to the School want to have a positive impact on their community in the future. Our donors’ generosity is really an investment in the future of these communities, and in Indigenous Australia."
"The Indigenous culture is one of the oldest in the world," explains Jamarl Firebrace, a Year 12 student who is now serving as Co-Chair on the School’s Reconciliation Committee.
"If all Melbourne Grammar students better understand our culture, then they have a greater chance of understanding and contributing to the important societal issue of reconciliation. Everyone benefits from these bursaries, and that is why they matter."
For TJ Bin Hitam-Keeffe, a Year 9 student who has just moved to Melbourne Grammar from his home in Derby, WA, the lure of educational excellence was more than enough to overcome the challenges associated with moving so far away from his family.
"One day I woke up and decided, ‘I want more than this,’" says TJ. "I wanted to come here to excel academically and because I know this School has the ability to take me where I want to go."
"In the future, I hope there will be even more people endorsing Indigenous education at this high standard," TJ says. "I see the difference in the quality of the education available to me here and it’s really eye-opening. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to excel in our schooling, and we’re proud to be here."
The funds raised for Indigenous Bursaries in 2017, together with parental and government contributions, added up to support one student for two years of schooling at Melbourne Grammar School.