Sydney archdiocese to offer Indigenous scholarships

The Sydney Catholic Education Office is to offer scholarships of up to $5000 a year to ensure that more Aboriginal children have the opportunity to attend Catholic high schools.

In response to concerns that many Indigenous primary students are not flowing through to Catholic schools, the Office will offer the scholarships to mainstream Catholic high schools from next year, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The scholarships, which appear to be inspired by an innovative scholarship scheme for Indigenous students offered by elite St Joseph's College in Hunters Hill, will cover the cost of all school fees and additional charges.

Students will also be given an additional $1,200 allowance to cover the cost of uniforms, excursions and textbooks.

Fees are considered to be the main hurdle for Aboriginal parents, many of whom send their children to public high schools.

Low-fee Catholic schools in Sydney will offer at least seven scholarships each year. Selection criteria are being developed, but will probably be based on academic performance and leadership skills, the Herald says.

Susan Clifton, the principal at Our Lady of Mt Carmel Primary School in Waterloo, said half her students were Indigenous. She said about 70 per cent went on to Catholic high schools.

"The parents struggle to pay their fees," Ms Clifton said. "Each year we would have a few of our students go into the state system."

Ms Clifton said the notion of winning a scholarship would help build the self-esteem of students.

"These kids show great academic potential, but come from very disadvantaged backgrounds," she told the Herald. "The scholarships will help give them greater belief in themselves and help keep them engaged in school."

School aid to ensure Aborigines go Catholic (Sydney Morning Herald, 6/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Office, Sydney
St Joseph's College, Hunter's Hill

Indigenous students break through at Sydney's Joey's (CathNews, 4/9/06)
Brisbane Mercies establish ACU scholarship fund (CathNews 18/11/05)
ACU exhibit and lecture features Indigenous artwork (CathNews 31/8/05)
Senator says Vinnies' indigenous scholarship 'sets standard' (CathNews 29/11/00)

6 Oct 2006