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Diocese of Toowoomba Catholic Schools

Catholic Schools Indigenous students celebrated graduation at Mass

Fourteen excited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, came together this week with local Elders and civic leaders to celebrate their successful completion of Year 12.

A special Mass, that included the presentation of a commemorative medal and sash by Dr Patrick Coughlan, Executive Director: Catholic Schools was followed by lunch.

The event was a great celebration of inclusive communities, with family members mingling together with local councillors and members of parliament to share their pride in the achievements of these students. Uncle Darby McCarthy, member of our Diocesan Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Committee proudly posed with the graduating students and Cr Bill Cahill spoke to them of his own experiences growing up as an Indigenous person.

Cr Cahill offered many wise and practical tips for the students to consider saying, “I encourage you to consider journaling, that is, write down your hopes and beliefs, focus on your goals and make daily lists to help guide you to good choices.”

Education Officer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, Jenny Wills said, “It is important to celebrate this occasion, to acknowledge the hard work of the students, families and schools and give the students our blessings for their future.”

Many school principals also bought along younger Indigenous students to emphasise the importance of continuing to Year 12.

“Recent national data shows the retention rate of full-time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Years 7 to Year 12 was 55% compared with 83% for other students, so this is a real achievement for our Year 12s and we wish them all the best for the future. We also hope that the younger students have been encouraged by their peers success,” said Ms Wills.

Most of the graduating students have their next steps post schooling already planned with many heading to further study or employment.