Academy of Sport, Health and Education

MINISTER HUTCHINS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) — Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Academy of Sport, Health and Education, better known as ASHE, in Shepparton. ASHE was established in 2005 in conjunction with the Rumbalara Football Netball Club and the University of Melbourne. ASHE offers a unique framework focusing on the three key areas of health, education and sport for young Aboriginal people in the greater Shepparton region. Given the academy’s success in delivering this unique education framework over the years, young Aboriginal people from all over the country are now enrolled and participating in ASHE’s programs.

ASHE also delivers a range of community-based short courses in the area of community development and leadership. These particular programs are developed on an as-needed basis and can provide opportunities and incentives for students who want to seek higher levels of education. ASHE has created its own unique culture, and it is a central hub for many young Aboriginal students in the greater Shepparton region. I heard firsthand from students who spoke about their struggles in the mainstream education system and how they felt excluded and not wanted at different times in their education.

These young and talented Aboriginal students were bullied and experienced racist comments at school, and these were the main reasons for them not wanting to go to school. Now, in the culturally safe environment and structure of ASHE, young Aboriginal students are finishing their year 12 certificates or equivalent, and the students participating in school want to be role models for their younger siblings and other relatives.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Leonie Dwyer and her team of amazing teachers and staff, who do incredible work, and the students for being so honest and open.