AIMEing High
Deck Yourself Out with Your Own AIME Hoodie

Deck Yourself Out with Your Own AIME Hoodie

It might not be a name that you’re familiar with, but Jack Manning Bancroft is making a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of Australia’s Indigenous young people.

Founder and CEO of Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) at just 24 years, Jack together with a group of dedicated volunteers and supporters are improving the lives and futures of Australia’s Indigenous high school students.

Jack’s idea for AIME was borne from a realisation in his studies at the University of Sydney’s Koori Centre, that widespread Indigenous community problems in health, education and living standards are interlinked with the absence of Indigenous students in higher education.

Realising that improving educational outcomes is critical to overcoming many aspects of disadvantage, and with the assistance of a bunch of university volunteers, Jack set up the Indigenous Corporation, AIME in 2005.

Intended to maximise Indigenous retention in the education system and improve the educational outcomes of Australia’s Indigenous students, AIME partners student volunteers in a one-on-one mentoring relationship with an Indigenous high school student for an hour a week over the course of a 17 week program that covers basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, plus other topics including leadership, self-esteem and racism.

Ian Thorpe in his AIME Red HoodieJack’s aspiration for AIME is that it will bring about a culture where kids see the value of education and are supported in their studies, which will lead to positive results for school completion and university admission rates.

Currently evidence suggests that many Indigenous children are leaving school in years 9 and 10 with poor literacy and numeracy skills and with limited post school options, AIME is directed at changing this and has three specific goals focussed on improving year 10 and year 12 completion rates and university admission rates for all participating students.

What started in 2005 as a 12 week pilot scheme for 25 year 9 students at Alexandria Park Community School, has now expanded to 40 schools, 5 universities, 500 Indigenous high school students and over 500 university volunteers across NSW participating in AIME.

And for a simple idea, the results have been impressive. In 2008, for example, all the year 12 students enrolled in AIME completed the year and 38 per cent of them went to university. But it is not just academically where the results have been positive.

The AIME program is also helping to create respect and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. With only about 10 – 15 per cent of the mentors Indigenous, one of the most powerful effects of the program is that it is helping to break down entrenched or unconscious discrimination and stereotypes and create a sense of community and respect.

It is the community that he grew up in, surrounded by numerous successful Indigenous and non- Indigenous people, that Jack credits his perseverance with his own studies. The son of Aboriginal artist Bronwyn Bancroft and the actor Ned Manning, Jack is passionate about his identity as an Aboriginal Australian and conscious of his fortunate upbringing at having a lot of positive role models in his life.

It is the concept that not all kids have strong role models or someone to show interest in them that AIME is unique. With studies finding that Indigenous school children are less likely to have parental support, for example, to help with homework, compared with non-Indigenous children, it is fitting that AIME, along with the work of the mentors, includes the support of a number of expert participants to run certain elements of the program. Key participants include Marion Potts associate director of the Bell Shakespeare Company who runs the drama sessions, Bronwyn Bancroft (Jack’s mother) runs the art sessions and well known Indigenous hip hop group Street Warriors preside over hip hop.

It is a credit to the success of AIME that such a high calibre list of supporters, which also includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, are involved.

Although he insists that AIME is a team effort, Jack is truly the driving force behind the program’s success. Recognised as the NSW Young Australian of the Year for 2010, Jack’s achievements to date are nothing short of remarkable. And with plans to expand AIME nationally and internationally, there is no end in sight to the benefits that the program will bring the world over, and for Australia AIME is a positive step towards closing the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.

For more information on the AIME program, or to get involved please visit: http://www.aimementoring.com/ where you can also get your AIME Hoodies and be part of positive change.

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Contributing Writer Alex Brown

Contributing Writer Alex Brown

Alex is a holiday writer, with a love of languages and a background in economics. Interests in travel, linguistics, fashion news and celebrity trivia.

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