The University of Canberra has welcomed a $600,000 funding pledge to establish a new program to champion innovation and business initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Member for Fenner Andrew Leigh and the Labor candidate for Canberra Alicia Payne announced the funding, which will help establish the University of Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Entrepreneurs Program, where students will work alongside entrepreneurs and community leaders to develop skills and start their own businesses.
The funding will meet half the costs of the innovative entrepreneur program for three years, with the university paying for the rest should the program be implemented.
The University said that in a bid to raise aspirations, boost participation and increase engagement, a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Entrepreneurs Program would focus on job creation, leadership, creativity and innovation.
“This much-needed program will not only provide access to careers, it will encourage Indigenous people to define their own path, create their own business, employ others inside and outside their community and have an ongoing positive effect on the community,” said Peter Radoll, Dean Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Strategy.
Students would work alongside entrepreneurs and community leaders to develop skills and start their own business. The University’s integrated workplace learning embedded practical experience into all its degrees, but this program took that one step further, giving students the tools to be entrepreneurs.
Mr Leigh said the program would be funded as part of Labor’s $174 million commitment to boost equity and participation in higher education.
“We know that 34 per cent of Indigenous Australians have post-school qualifications compared to 54 per cent of non-Indigenous Australians,” he said.
“Improving Indigenous education levels and entrepreneurship rates is vital to making progress towards the Closing the Gap target of halving the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, which is presently not on track.”
A Shorten Labor Government would also abolish the Liberals’ cap on university places, giving an extra 200,000 Australians the chance to go to university over the next decade.