Student’s Hoodie Day design worn nationwide

Published in the June-July 2017 issue

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Ella Gillespe wearing her design.

When Ella Gillespie pulled on a hoodie for AIME’s national Hoodie Day on July 7, it was a proud moment. Ella and thousands of Australians around the country were wearing her design ‘Travelling Whales’.

The artwork by Ella, a Year 9 student at Evans River K-12 School and a mentee in the AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) program at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus, was selected as the 2017 AIME National Hoodie Day design. The hoodies are cut from an irregular sections of fabric, making each one of them unique. For AIME, this symbolises the people of Australia: we are all different but part of one fabric of humanity.

“Living on the coast has encouraged me to paint stories of my surroundings,” said Ella.

“This artwork is my interpretation of the east coast humpback whale migration, the white line.”

Hoodie Day is the main fundraiser for AIME’s dedicated Aboriginal youth mentoring program.

“In the seven years since we launched National Hoodie Day, the AIME hoodie has evolved as a powerful symbol,” said AIME CEO and founder, Jack Manning Bancroft.

“It is a symbol of black and white coming together and a symbol of belief. It is a symbol for change and for a generation of future leaders who strive to create a culture where for every step you take forward in life, you throw your hand back and bring someone with you.”

The theme of this year’s Hoodie Day campaign was ‘Making Mentoring famous’ and featured mentors and kids asking Australia to walk with them while the younger generation brings about change.

“Any person can mentor, so it’s about spreading the word and making it famous,” said Mr Manning Bancroft.

Last year, 850 mentees, like Ella, were engaged in the program across the three Southern Cross University campuses at Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Gold Coast. This represents nearly a doubling of the engagement rate when compared to 2015 (495 mentees).

From this group, the AIME team at Southern Cross celebrated record numbers for Year 12 mentees, with Year 12 attainment at 98.5% (67 out of 68 students). Many of these students have successfully transitioned to further studies at Southern Cross including Erykah Kitchener-Waters (Coffs Harbour program) who is studying a Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge, Ebony Whitehouse-Ferris (Lismore program) who is studying a Bachelor of Nursing, and Dhananjaya Johnson (Gold Coast program) who is studying Bachelor of Clinical Sciences (Osteopathic Studies).

More broadly, the AIME 2016 Annual Report (audited by KPMG), reveals that the Year 12 attainment for students across all program sites was 94.1%. This is a record for AIME across its 12 year history, and a success rate that keeps on climbing. The figures means that Indigenous students who engage with the AIME program are graduating high school at higher rates (94.1%) than their non-Indigenous counterparts (86.4% Year 12 attainment).

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