Story: Vegas Shows The Way
a) The gambling capital of the world;
b) A guidance scheme for Indigenous school students; or
c) Another word for ‘vegetarian’.
Give up? The correct answer is b). (The gambling capital of the world is Las Vegas, while a ‘vegan’ is someone who doesn’t eat meat, eggs or milk products.)
VEGAS stands for Vocational and Educational Guidance for Aboriginals Scheme.
This is a scheme administered by the Department of Employment, Training & Youth Affairs (DETYA) as part of its National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy (AEP).
VEGAS provides financial assistance to sponsoring organisations committed to encouraging Indigenous young people to get a full education. They do this by teaching students how to set and then achieve goals, by talking to them about their career options, and by putting students in contact with Indigenous role models and mentors.
VEGAS also sponsors projects that enhance Indigenous students’ understanding of their study and career options. Such a project might teach good study habits, provide information about university or TAFE courses, or assist students in deciding upon a career.
Organisations that can attract assistance from VEGAS include Aboriginal Student Support and Parent Awareness (ASSPA) committees, Indigenous community groups and individual schools.
VEGAS also encourages young Indigenous offenders to get involved in education and training programs while in detention, and to take part in employment programs once they’ve been released.
Education officer and team manager Rhonda Brown from DETYA in South Australia told Deadly Vibe about one of their VEGAS success stories – at Port Augusta Secondary School.
“This project, which ran last year, helped to identify vocational and educational options for students, particularly those most at risk of dropping out,” says Rhonda. “A coordinator mentored them and helped establish networks with local organisations and community groups to improve their chances of getting the kind of work they wanted after leaving school.”
Students undertook weekly activities to boost self-esteem and improve their vocational and life skills. They were encouraged to take pride in their culture and even went on a three-day camp to Iga Warta, a cultural tourism centre developed from scratch by a local Aboriginal family.
The project was so successful that it has been funded again this year.
For more information on VEGAS, conduct your DETYA’s Indigenous Education Unit.