QUT Pasifika Ambassadors mentoring Northlakes Lakes State College students at The Fale
Over 10 weeks two QUT Ambassadors partnered with North Lakes State College to deliver a peer-to-peer pilot program specifically for Maori and Pasifika students.
Cathleen Fetokai, QUT’s Pasifika Outreach and Retention Officer, said that the pilot was developed to meet a need for Maori and Pasifika students during their secondary school journey.
“In developing this program, we aim to meet students where they are, both physically and from a pastoral care perspective. Having a program specifically for Maori and Pasifika people, that is developed and delivered by Pasifika people is incredibly impactful," Ms. Fetokai said of the program design. "Our Pasifika Ambassadors may share similar experiences with the students we’re meeting, so in addition to the content of the sessions, there is two-way learning through the personal connections being made. These workshops are mutually beneficial for both the school students and our ambassadors.”
QUT’s Widening Participation team worked with Mary Harm the North Lakes State College Pasifika Liaison Officer to offer after-school workshops that build on the existing teaching framework and curriculum. Content was tailored to the specific needs of the cohort, with a different topic being offered each week over ten weeks. Topics included time management, career pathways and support with subject assessments. Other concerns that were identified was to support students successfully navigate adversity and racial discrimination.
The Ambassadors leading the workshops were able to set the tone for engagement and said that having a less formal environment while still on school grounds allowed for deeper engagement.
One of the participating Ambassadors shared that they were able to have more meaningful conversations with students about themselves and what their dream jobs are. Students shared their career aspirations including being a mechanic (Year 10 student), construction manager (Grade 9 student) and fashion designer (Year 8 student).
Kate Flynn, QUT's Student Inclusion Program Manager noted that the work the Widening Participation team do isn't a marketing exercise.
"Our aim is to help students make informed choices about their futures, and then map a path to get there, wherever ‘there’ is," she said. "Knowing who you are, and where your strengths lie, is the first and vital step. We are privileged to work in partnership with schools and communities in Brisbane’s North and to help young people explore their post-school options."
Following the success of the pilot program, The Widening Participation team is now working with several schools in the Brisbane Northern Corridor to develop a nuanced version of The Fale for their Maori and Pasifika student cohorts.