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A strong partnership between a not-for-profit educational organisation and South32 is helping keep Indigenous students in school.

The Polly Farmer Foundation has worked with the resources company on Groote Eylandt for five years.

Foundation general manager of operations Brad Goodlet says the partnership is helping about 220 school students.

“Our relationship with South32 is fantastic,” he says. “Their support is substantial – we wouldn’t be able to operate on Groote without their help.

“The support gives us certainty and sustainability.”

The funding has allowed the Polly Farmer Foundation to extend its operations from Umbakumba, Alyangula and Angurugu to the Bickerton Island community of Milyakburra in the past year.

South32’s grant money and in-kind support helps pay for two important programs.

The After-School Primary Learning Class, which caters mainly for students from preparatory to year 6, operates out of established community schools, except at Alyangula, where South32 has provided premises.

Students voluntarily attend the centres after school twice a week to take part in a range of activities, including literacy, numeracy, science, art and culture.

“It’s fun and engaging but purposeful,” says Mr Goodlet. “We’re trying to help develop a good attitude and improve capabilities and skills so that the students can have a successful and productive secondary education.

“By providing a positive experience we’re demonstrating that going to school is worthwhile.”

The second program is called In-School Tuition – students taking part in the After-School Primary Learning Class are given extra literacy and numeracy education.

“Our tutors go into the classroom and work with teachers to provide one-on-one support. It’s an intensive program and is strongly supported by all the schools on Groote.”

Mr Goodlet says the foundation’s programs have what he calls “stickability”.

“We’re here during the good times and the bad times. We turn up every day, no matter what – and that has given us tremendous credibility. “We’ve got good support from the community. And that is shown by the fact that parents often come along with their children and do the same study work.”

He says the staff – most of whom are partners of South32 workers – are “fantastic”.

The two coordinators, Cayley Nowell and Kelly Farrell, are both qualified teachers.

Foundation programs promote the Anindilyakwa language.

South32 also supports one of the Polly Farmer Foundation’s highlights of the year – the camp to Cairns.

The resources company flies students taking part in the foundation’s program from Groote to North-East Queensland free of charge.

“Everybody looks forward to it,” says Mr Goodlet. “It’s a great learning adventure.”

Since inception in 1994, the Foundation has been committed to a strengths-based approach, supporting students who have the potential to succeed and who have the support of their family/carers. Our academic enrichment programs empower Aboriginal students to complete school and move into successful post-school pathways, including university, direct employment, apprenticeships, traineeships and technical training.

Academic enrichment is at the heart of all our primary and secondary programs, with mentoring, specialist tuition, leadership, resilience, cultural celebrations and career pathway planning provided to each and every student. Our programs are voluntary and held after-school, with students choosing to focus on their education and pursue their goals.

Our alumni network is extensive and includes many individuals who have not only achieved great success in their chosen fields but are also proud, positive role models for their families and communities. Our graduates are represented across a range of areas including law, the arts, education, mining, medical, financial, sciences, engineering, teaching, technical, trades, community, corporate and many other vocations.

The Foundation has operated successfully for 25 years and built long-term, trusted relationships with families, schools, communities, government and private enterprise.