It was a proud day recently when a group of Indigenous students were presented with certificates for successfully completing literacy and numeracy programs undertaken by Indie College.

The graduation ceremony was hosted by Dareton’s BMEET Gallery.

Mildura’s Indie College supports adult-learners across a range of programs, while the Indie School focuses on support for ‘educationally at risk’ students from nine to 15 years.

Melbourne-based Indie School and College CEO, Rodney Wangman was in Dareton for the graduation ceremony and said that the programs the organisation offered to students were nationally recognised accredited training, providing foundation-skills education.

“Principally language and literacy and numeracy skills which then allows our students to move into higher forms of education – places like SuniTAFE and other registered training organisations,” Mr Wangman said.

“Some of the students that connect with our Indie School and College programs will actually return to their previous schools. We have about an 85 per cent success rate with the students that we work with, meaning that they either go back to school or they go onto to some other form of higher education or find employment.
“We find our program is very successful, typically working individually, or in pairs, but also groups of three to five people.”

The Indie School and Indie College work together coming under the same umbrella organisation.

“Some of our college students have been in their early 40s and even 60s, and again, for many of them, it is about picking up some of their weakness in literacy and numeracy skills and helping them to reconnect through employment agencies to get them back into active employment roles.”

Mr Wangman paid tribute to the teaching and support staff attached to the Mildura college.

“We are wonderfully supported by our team of staff here who are both teacher-trainers and accessors and welfare staff, all of whom are very much representative of the community with breadth of life-skills, which helps our student learners,” he said.

“Practical application of what is being learnt really means something to these students, particularly young teenagers.”

“Indie School and Indie College have a unified approach which aims to help what we would call vulnerable learners,” Mr Wangman said.

“Vulnerable in the sense that they haven’t had the advantage of education and sometimes that does mean that their home circumstances or life circumstances are difficult and so we are fortunate in the way that we offer support within our programs.
“Our education is a strength based approach – be it in art, or sport, or in culture – supporting their own objectives in life, which in most cases is about gaining employment in something that holds their interest.”

Speaking at the presentation, Mr Wangman wished the graduates well in their ongoing endeavours.

“I wish you well on your future journey either with us, or with other organisations, learning doesn’t stop just because you walk out the door,” he said.

“Learning is a life journey. Learning as we get older is about hearing the stories and wisdom that comes from grey hair and less hair! The stories that we hand down on how we do better in life and how we care for each other, how we get on with our families and how we support others and importantly how we get jobs to make our money.”

Wentworth Mayor, Councillor Sue Nichols, was also in attendance and commented on how much she enjoyed visiting the BMEET Gallery.

“I have been in this building before and the artwork on display here is absolutely superb – I love this place it is absolutely beautiful,” Cr Nichols said.

“The work that you are doing here and gaining your qualifications is something that you will be able to pass the benefits of onto others in the community and that is most important because the more in education that you can get the better.
“You are the people who the younger ones are looking up to and they are going to say “he did it – she did it – I can do it too”.
“As long you think along the lines of I can do it , you will succeed.”

Mildura Indie College Lead Coach Sue Hamence said that the College had been working with the BMEET staff for the past two years to deliver adult literacy and numeracy training.

“We have three of the boys graduating today, along with other members of the Wentworth and Dareton community, who have also undertaken training,” she said.

“The partnership that we enjoy with the community out here is absolutely brilliant and it’s wonderful to have Sue Nichols here today, she is an enthusiastic advocate of our program and really understands the benefit for the community of educating these young people, giving them advantages that they may not otherwise have had if they left mainstream school and not gained any formal qualifications.”

Graduating student, Myria McLean said the Indie College program had been good for her self-esteem and confidence.

“It has built a lot of confidence. I have really come out of my shell and it has been a great learning experience and I feel I can be a role model for others now,” Myria said.

Fellow student Thomas Kelly said that undertaking the literacy and numeracy program had really turned his life around.

“One of my main goals was motivation – to get me up and out of the situation I was in before and to get me to where I really needed to be,” he said.

“It has made me motivated and smarter and has encouraged me to move on to do more and not to look back – just move forward improving myself as I do and I would really recommend this training to other people.”