In February 2014, Swire announced a six year partnership with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF).

AIEF is a private sector led non-profit organisation focused on empowering Indigenous children in financial need to build a future through quality education and careers at Australia’s leading schools, universities and companies.

AIEF has the highest retention and Year 12 attainment rates of any federally funded program in Australia, and 93% of the year 12 graduates from the AIEF program have embarked on a productive career pathway after completing secondary school. Having started with only one secondary school scholarship in 2008, AIEF has seen 151 students graduate from Year 12 and offered over 400 scholarship places across Australia in 2013.

AIEF have a proven track record in achieving results. Of AIEF scholarship students, over 90% graduate Year 12, with 39% of graduates continuing their education at university and 54% in vocational training or employment.

The phrase “Closing the Gap” is generally used to refer to the inequalities that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Only 51% of Indigenous students in Australia complete their schooling from the beginning of secondary school through to Year 12, while the non-Indigenous rate is around 81%. Indigenous people in the labour force are three times more likely than non-Indigenous people to be unemployed (16% compared with 5%).

AIEF believes marginalised Indigenous children should have access to some of Australia’s best educational opportunities and pursue productive and fulfilling careers. That is why AIEF provides scholarships to boarding schools and residential university colleges through the AIEF Scholarship Program, while the AIEF Pathways Program offers intensive career support to equip students with the tools to unlock their potential and pursue their dreams. Swire’s contribution of $1 million over six years will go towards funding more scholarships at various schools across Australia.

AIEF’s mission is to empower Indigenous children to build a brighter future for themselves and for the nation. They aim to educate 7,000 Indigenous children at some of Australia’s leading schools and universities and support their transition into meaningful careers.

AIEF works with its stakeholders and Indigenous students on AIEF scholarships to implement a number of key activities and programs which are part of the AIEF Pathways Program.

For example, the AIEF Mentor Program works with employees from AIEF’s Corporate Partners, who donate their time in an ongoing relationship with an Indigenous student. This element of corporate engagement is a core principle of the Mentor Program, which seeks to build a structured and trusting relationship between a student and an experienced, professional individual who shares knowledge and offers instructive guidance and support about life and career options.

Swire has committed to a minimum six year partnership with AIEF. During this time, various opportunities will develop which will allow employees of Swire companies to become engaged in the Pathways Program. Specifically, we will be seeking employees who wish to volunteer as mentors or tutors to AIEF students. These opportunities will be limited at first as we learn more about what it involves, but will grow over time. Our engagement will also grow as AIEF continues to partner with more schools and provide more scholarships and the opportunities available to staff will be promoted as they emerge.

Applying for an AIEF Scholarship

AIEF partners with leading schools and colleges that have established Indigenous education programs and close relationships with Indigenous families and communities, providing high-quality educational opportunities to students who are enthusiastic about learning and eager to unlock their potential.

Partner schools are responsible for their core competencies of student selection and enrolments, student and family relationships, education and pastoral care. AIEF supports these schools by providing funding for Indigenous scholarships.

To apply for an AIEF scholarship, families contact AIEF Partner Schools directly to enquire what scholarships are available and to express interest in enrolling as an AIEF scholarship student. All enrolment discussions take place between the school and the family.

If you are interested in applying, visit the AIEF website.

AIEF is an important initiative to effect tangible generational change for Indigenous communities and Swire is pleased to be part of this change

- Geoff Cundle, John Swire & Sons Pty Ltd Chairman and AIEF Ambassador