Origin’s philanthropic arm, the Origin Energy Foundation has been a long term supporter of Gawura, Australia’s first inner city school established for Indigenous children. This week, the school celebrates its tenth anniversary during NAIDOC Week 2017.
Gawura – located within St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney’s Central Business District – is one of the success stories in the collective effort to close the gap in educational achievement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, boasting strong outcomes and an attendance rate over ninety percent.
“Our model is to have very small class sizes, with intense instruction in literacy and numeracy, along with lessons about the students’ Indigenous culture and language,” said Dr John Collier, head of St Andrew’s Cathedral School.
“Absences from school are rare, and if you use NAPLAN as an indicator, our students have certainly bridged the gap in education standards, with most of our Gawura students at or above the national average in all areas” said Dr Collier.
Origin’s Foundation, which supports programs that use education to break the cycle of disadvantage, has been a long term supporter of educational attainment for Indigenous children. Origin Energy Foundation Head, Sean Barrett, says Gawura is one of the bright spots in Indigenous education.
“While there are undoubtedly education hurdles to overcome, there are also examples of education success, and Gawura is one of them.
“The Gawura model of bringing together Indigenous culture with learning, and involving family and community is clearly a winner” he said.
“My mother always told me that education was the key to a better life, and Gawura was perfect because it was set up well for the girls to learn and be proud of their Aboriginal heritage”
Twins Rachel and Georgia were the first girls to join the school.
Origin Energy CEO Frank Calabria volunteering at Gawura earlier this year.
Strong parental involvement and input from the Indigenous community have been hallmarks of Gawura since it was created in 2007.
Louise Durmush’s twin daughters Rachel and Georgia were the first girls to join the school, and its emphasis on celebrating their Indigenous culture was at the heart of her decision to move her daughters to Gawura.
“My mother always told me that education was the key to a better life, and Gawura was perfect because it was set up well for the girls to learn and be proud of their Aboriginal heritage” Louise said.
The strong foundation Gawura set for the twin sisters has led them to the University of Sydney, where both girls are now studying.
“The opportunity to be proud of my heritage is such an important part of my identity, and it has enabled me to complete high school and now pursue my dream of becoming a lawyer,” said Rachel.
“Gawura has taught me to have high expectations of myself and to never settle for less” Georgia added.
Find out more about the Origin Energy Foundation and meet some of the young people who are using education to achieve.