AN innovative program that involved Vincentia High School students in an Indigenous Rangers Cadetship Pilot Program has been officially launched.
Students, stakeholders, elders and parents gathered for the official launch at Greenfields Beach at Vincentia on Wednesday.
Violet Green, representing the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Peter Garrett officially launched the pilot program for year 9 and 10 students, which got under way late last year.
Ms Green also announced the program had secured funding to be continued next year.
Vincentia High is one of 12 schools around the country to be given the opportunity to take part in the scheme but the only one in NSW.
The pilot aims to increase retention, engagement and employment opportunities for Aboriginal students through school based training, leading to traineeships or apprenticeships.
Fifteen Vincentia students will be exposed to a range of organisational and cultural experiences. Those involved in the launch were Caitlin Kent, Shakeela Williams, Kewana Parsons, Nina Fisher, Torie Kelly, Tiarna Freeman, Caleb Ardler-Finch, Nakita Russell, Brodie Madden, Dylan Mundy, Brendyn Lonesborough, Cody Hubbard and Jarrod Stubbs.
Each Wednesday, students participate in course work and practical activities and by the end of term three this year will attain Certificate 1 in Conservation and Land Management.
“They learn from experts in the field of cultural and land management and natural resource management,” said co-ordinator Ashlee Moon.
“We are lucky to be surrounded by and have the involvement of two national parks and their staff, which include Booderee National Park and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.”
Other local organisation and community groups are also assisting in delivering the program. These include the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), Auswide, Wreck Bay Aboriginal Land Council, Jerrinja Local Aboriginal Land Council, Shoalhaven City Council, Catchment Management Authority, Forestry NSW Southern Region, Jervis Bay Marine Parks Authority, Aboriginal Education Consultation Group and Jervis Bay Public School.
“With the input of these stakeholders, an important side of the program is for students to start to develop their own cultural identity,” Mrs Moon said.
“It allows them to understand who they are, where they come from and the importance of caring for country.
“I am particularly proud of the way the students are achieving personal growth.”
She said the students had a number of exciting activities planned for the future, including bush regeneration programs, bush and weed management, significant site management as well as starting a bark canoe project.
“We will be documenting the students’ achievements throughout the year and will produce an end of program documentary as well as a regular newsletter to keep everyone informed,” she said.
She also thanked the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) for funding the program, Aunty Gai Brown for her help and support with the program along with Jonathan Hill who is employed to work with the students in the program three days a week.