Culturally appropriate pathways to enhancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students positive self-perceptions: findings from the AIME mentoring program

Year: 2013

Author: Bodkin-Andrews, Gawaian, McMahon, Sam, Harwood, Valerie, Hogan, Michael

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Numerous educators, researchers, and community representatives have repeatedly emphasised the need to enhance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students’ positive self-perceptions within the schooling climate (Bodkin-Andrews, O’Rourke, & Craven, 2010; Craven & Marsh, 2010; NSW AECG & NSW DET, 2004; Sarra, 2011). This work has identified that it is critical that culturally appropriate pathways to heightened positive self-perceptions be identified. One method that has received considerable support from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and representatives is through the process of peer-mentoring schemes (Lester & Munns, 2011). One of the more successful and high profile mentoring programs can be found through the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME). AIME was established in 2005 when 25 students from the University of Sydney volunteered to work with 25 Indigenous children from local high schools. As of April 2013, more than 3000 university student mentors have been recruited to work with 3542 Indigenous school students in New South Wales, Queensland  and Victoria, with the program now expanded to Western Australia and South Australia.  The AIME Program is based on the recruitment of university students as mentors who provide advice and personal support to Indigenous school mentees from years 7 to 12. Its overall goals are to improve retention rates of Indigenous high school students to Year 12 and, post school, to connect Indigenous students to university and employment.
It is the purpose of this paper to investigate how Aboriginal students’ experiences with AIME may be associated within higher levels of identity, self-esteem, and school self-concept. Utilising nested regression techniques, the results suggest that the varying strategies utilised with the AIME may promote a diverse array of positive self-perceptions for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students (over and above student background variables), thus attesting to the worth of this program.