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Education Training, Indigenous

Australia-First Report Reveals Indigenous Students’ Culture, Confidence & Aspirations Strengthened Through New Programs

Aurora Education Foundation 4 mins read
Aurora students on camp with Elder and Mentor Uncle Charlie Mundine

Australia-First Report Reveals Indigenous Students’ Culture, Confidence & Aspirations Strengthened Through New Programs

April 2024. The Aurora Education Foundation (Aurora) has today released its inaugural 2024 RISE Impact Report, publishing first-of-its-kind insights about what works in Indigenous education. 

Launched in 2021, RISE is an Australia-first Indigenous education initiative that delivers and evaluates three distinct programs to encourage Indigenous student outcomes. All programs deliver tutoring at a minimum, with the most intensive program providing a comprehensive set of in-person interactions, including camps, tutoring, engagement days, and Elder and Indigenous mentor support. 

Early findings illustrate that when students are supported through RISE, there is a significant increase in self-confidence, educational aspirations and cultural knowledge, with Aurora staff and mentors also having a direct impact on students deciding to complete the HSC versus other education pathways.

Emerging data relating to student experience has found a 116% increase in the proportion of students who knew about their Indigenous family history and culture, a 22% increase in the proportion of students who felt confident in achieving their goals and a 12% increase in the proportion of students who think a lot about their future goals.

Data relating to parent and carer engagement has found a 176% increase in the proportion of parents and carers who spoke to their child daily about work and study plans, and a 28% increase in the proportion of parents and carers who understood the subjects their child needed to take to go to university. 

Insights from extensive analysis about ‘success’ in Indigenous education has also illustrated that supporting the social and emotional development of students was critical to Indigenous students’ definition of success in education, and that Indigenous students and families found that success in education was often in spite of rather than because of Australia’s education system. 

These insights form only part of the 2024 RISE Impact Report, with a suite of outputs, including a unique curriculum, Outcomes Framework and detailed program models set to change the way Australia’s education system supports and encourages Indigenous student outcomes. 

Aurora’s CEO Leila Smith says, “I am incredibly proud to be launching our inaugural RISE Impact Report, as we work to redefine Indigenous success in education and show what is possible when decisions about Indigenous people and communities are Indigenous-led and governed. Through this Report, we’re not just showing what is possible, we’re also showing how it can be possible, and this has huge ramifications for decision makers in government and education. Importantly, this report shows what we’ve been saying at Aurora for years – the potential of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people is limitless. I am excited about the continued impact of this initiative over the coming years.”  

Governance of RISE data is overseen by Aurora’s independent and external Indigenous Data Governance Committee, composed of five experts in Indigenous Data Governance and education. The Committee is chaired by Euahlayi man, Bhiamie Williamson. The committee is made up of the following members: Noonuccal woman, Dr Karen Martin, D’harawal man Professor Gawaian Bodkin-Andrews, Nyungar Goreng woman Gail Barrow and Meriam woman Alex Hohoi. Indigenous Data Governance ensures that all elements of the RISE data life cycle are accountable to Indigenous communities, respectful of Indigenous rights and interests, and promotes Indigenous aspirations for self-determination in education.   

The 2024 RISE Impact Report is available to read now via the Aurora website,



Due to scheduling conflicts, phone interviews are not available, however we are able to facilitate written responses with Aurora’s CEO, Leila Smith, or Head of Policy and Programs, Jesse King. 

For more information, please contact: Jillian McKee ( or Tyla Lane ( 

About Aurora 

The Aurora Education Foundation is an Indigenous organisation that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to realise their full education and employment potential – whether it is completing Year 12 or achieving a DPhil from Oxford. Through interconnected pathways, Aurora walks with students from high school through to university and the workplace, redefining Indigenous educational and employment success.  

About RISE 

RISE is an Australian-first, evidence-based Indigenous education initiative that delivers and evaluates three distinct models of Aurora’s High School Program over five years to encourage Indigenous high school student outcomes. RISE is designed with the hopes of shaping future learning programs and informing policy to nurture equitable learning and decolonise education, but most importantly it strives to empower First Nations students to succeed on their own terms.

About RISE Programs

HSP Core provides a comprehensive set of in-person interactions, including camps, tutoring, family engagement days, one-day engagements, and Elder and mentor engagement. It also provides remote interactions through an academic support plan. The target audience includes students and parents or carers, with interactions occurring monthly and as needed.

HSP Focus delivers in-person interactions such as tutoring, family engagement days, one-day engagements, and Elder and mentor engagement. It also incorporates remote interactions through an academic support plan, targeting students and parents or carers. Interactions are scheduled on a monthly basis.

HSP Learn offers in-person tutoring interactions with some additional remote engagement. The program focuses exclusively on students and there is no ongoing interaction provided.

Partnership with Paul Ramsay Foundation

The 2024 Rise Impact Report has been developed by the Aurora Education Foundation as part of the Redefining Indigenous Success in Education (RISE) Project. The RISE Project is funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation (grant number 5030). Any opinions, findings, or conclusions expressed in the report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

RISE Partners 

RISE is funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Commonwealth Department of Education, Industry Super Holdings and the National Indigenous Australians Agency, alongside a number of other supporters and donors.

RISE has been designed in partnership with the ANU Centre for Social Research Methods. This partnership is grounded in agreed principles recognising the importance of Indigenous leadership, Indigenous cultural and ethical practices in research, and two-way skills transfer. This partnership will support program evaluation over the course of RISE.

Contact details:

For media inquiries, please contact:

Jillian McKee (


Tyla Lane (


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