Adam Hansen understands, perhaps better than most, that education is the “ticket to a better life”. He understands because he has lived it.
A proud Nyoongar man, Adam was 20 when he finally graduated from Glebe High School after having asked then-principal Jill Collier to take him back, despite having mucked up as a teenager.
Today, with a bachelor’s degree from UTS already under his belt, Adam recently began studying for a Master of Indigenous Education — studies that go hand-in-hand with his work for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME).
Founded in 2005 — the same year Adam completed high school — AIME is a structured educational program that is proven to support Indigenous youth through high school and into university, training and employment at the same rate as every Australian child.
In his role as a national presenter, Adam works with thousands of Indigenous school children all over Australia — because not everyone has a Ms Collier to look out for them.
AIME and Coca-Cola: Working towards a better tomorrow
As a key supporter of AIME, Coca-Cola South Pacific provided staff with AIME hoodies to mark this year’s National Hoodie Day — a major AIME fundraising event held during NAIDOC Week.
Buying staff hoodies delivered a further $7,000, on top of the $150,000 support the Coca Cola Australia Foundation has provided to AIME in 2015. An additional $1,050 was raised on the day through staff donations.
Sydney staff also had the opportunity to hear Adam tell his story, and explain the important work that AIME is undertaking across Australia.
Adam shared the story of AIME’s humble beginnings from an initial cohort of 25 school children in 2005, to working with 18 Australian universities and 4,484 Indigenous school children across the country in 2014 alone. He explained how the organisation is well on the way to reaching its bold target to work with 10,000 children each year by 2018, and have every one of them transition to university, employment or further education.
Learning to AIME high
The AIME Institute offers six different courses tailored to each high school year, and features 49 unique modules, including internships for artists, performance opportunities for musicians, ambassador programs and more. Students also explore issues such as identity and respect. There’s even a unit encouraging them to write an inaugural speech as Australia’s first Indigenous prime minister.
The program has already delivered significant benefits. Last year 93.2 per cent of AIME’s Year 12 students completed school, which is higher than Australia’s non-Indigenous rate of 86.5 per cent.
In 2014, “114 students participating in the AIME Year 12 positive pathways programme went on to university, 83 to further education and training and 72 into employment,” said Adam.
According to Coca-Cola South Pacific general manager Paul Fitzgerald: "Since 2011 our Coca-Cola Australia Foundation has committed $1.8 million in support for two leading Indigenous education and mentoring programs: AIME and Clontarf. This support is helping thousands of young people have the future they deserve."
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Amatil is a participant in the Australian Employment Covenant with a range of other major enterprises, in a bid to boost employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. So far, CCA has employed 42 people as part of this initiative and is well on the way to achieving its target of 150 Indigenous employees under the Covenant.
According to Adam, Indigenous people have a long and proud history, and are as capable as any other group of people in Australia.
“Indigenous equals success and you don't have to be Aboriginal to believe that," he said. This belief is a true reflection of AIME’s mantra that; "Indigenous kids are born superheroes, we just show them how to fly."