Connections, culture, and confidence: Indigenous student and caregiver perspectives on reimagining outreach camps

Year: 2021

Author: Barney, Katelyn, Williams, Hayley

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Most universities run outreach camps that bring Indigenous high school students onto campus to elevate their aspirations to go to university. These on-campus outreach camps share many similarities including offering Indigenous high students three to five day on-campus experiences, a variety of information sessions, and workshops and events led by Indigenous and non-Indigenous outreach staff and Indigenous student ambassadors or mentors. It is unclear when the first outreach programs specifically for Indigenous students occurred; however, the number of outreach programs have grown substantially since the implementation of Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP) funding in 2010. As Smith et al. (2017, p. 47) note, “HEPPP has financed many successful university outreach activities to improve participation of disadvantaged students (especially Indigenous and low SES students)”. The theoretical case for these initiatives is strong as much data exists about the barriers Indigenous students face in entering university. However, there is limited published evaluation of outreach programs for Indigenous students (Bennett et al., 2015). This paper draws on findings from a National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education Equity Fellowship that used thematic analysis of interviews with Indigenous university students and their caregivers to explore their perspectives on ‘what works’ and what can be improved in outreach activities. This presentation shares the perspectives of these Indigenous university students and their caregivers on the strengths and effectiveness of outreach programs as well as possible areas to improve these initiatives. We will conclude by discussing the development of resources to strengthen Indigenous outreach programs that can assist universities across Australia to enhance their programs and reimagine Indigenous outreach programs to contribute to stronger outreach strategies targeting Indigenous students.