Noongar woman and Human Rights Lawyer Hannah McGlade put her hand up to become an Indigenous Education Ambassador to promote the importance of education “because we are still Closing the Gap in educational outcomes for our people.”
Like other Indigenous Education Ambassadors across Australia, she draws on her own educational experiences to motivate and, hopefully, inspire students to stay at school and get the most from their educational experiences.
She has recently completed her PhD, despite leaving school at just 15 years of age and ‘slipping through the system’ as a young girl at school.
“I drifted in and out of a lot of schools as a kid and was conscious of the racial divide. My loneliness at school was compounded by being an Aboriginal plus being poor,” she says.
After leaving school early, Hannah eventually reconnected with her education and enrolled in an Aboriginal bridging course at Curtin University.
“There were times during my education journey that I wanted to give up, but I was a bit like the phoenix rising from the ashes in that I went on to achieve a law degree and a PhD. I’m so glad I never gave up. I now have a sense of completeness and closure,” she says.
“Education has played such an important role in my life. It has opened up doors for me, and as an individual I’ve been able to contribute to the Aboriginal community.
“Education has taught me so much, including how to be a professional. It’s made me independent and self-determined and given me so many options.”
Under the Indigenous Education Ambassadors Program successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people visit schools, TAFEs, universities and other educational settings all over Australia as role models. They take part in events that promote the importance of education, share their personal stories and motivate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
The Ambassadors come from a variety of backgrounds and careers, from doctors and lawyers to tradies, business people, journalists and broadcasters, teachers, public servants and academics.
Her advice for our young people? “Education is a powerful tool for Aboriginal people collectively. It can and will give you a good life.”
More information on the Indigenous Education Ambassadors Program can be found at www.deewr.gov.au/Indigenous/Schooling/Programs/Pages/Ambassadorsprogram.aspx
And teachers, if you would like an Indigenous Ambassador to visit your school, fill out the ‘Request an Ambassador’ application on the website.