Indigenous university students who also support their family financially will have a better chance of success as part of the new Breadwinners Project.
The students, their employers and the Project will all contribute to a fund which provides financial support to students in their final two years of university, freeing them up to study full-time.
The Gillard Labor Government is investing $5.7 million in the Project over the next four years.
Announcing the Project at the University of Sydney today, Minister for Higher Education and Skills Sharon Bird said the Breadwinners Project will help about 80 Indigenous students balance work and family life.
“Juggling work, study and family commitments can be a near impossible task and this program offers the kind of practical help that makes all the difference,” Minister Bird said. “Many of these students will be the first in their family to attain a university degree – helping them to succeed will create benefits that flow on for generations.”
The Government has also allocated $5.6 million over four years to establish the National Centre for Cultural Competence at the University of Sydney.
Minister Bird said the new centre would improve cultural understanding through every aspect of university life, including curricula, teacher training and teaching methods.
“University is a place where people’s horizons open up, and students are exposed to new ideas, people and cultures,” Minister Bird said.
"This is about giving students a better chance of improving their awareness of other cultures – especially Indigenous cultures."
Both projects build on the recommendations of the Behrendt Review into Indigenous Education.
“Increasing the number of Indigenous graduates is an essential part of closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage,” Minister Bird said.
“We have come a long way in opening the doors to higher education in Australia but there is still more work to do and both these projects have an important role to play."
The projects are part of the Australian Government’s $736 million Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program.