Indigenous students empowered through outdoor education


For Indigenous students who attend boarding school, stepping out of their comfort zone is a familiar concept.  Not so familiar, however, is spending a week camping out in the Aussie bush and pushing themselves to their absolute limit, which is exactly what 18 brave students have just accomplished on a week-long camp as part of the AIEF Outward Bound Experience 2012.

The Indigenous students from Years 8, 9 and 10 at boarding schools across New South Wales and Queensland are supported by scholarships from the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF).   Through the AIEF Pathways Program, the students were selected to attend the seven-day AIEF Outward Bound Experience, which is supported by AIEF’s and Outward Bound’s corporate partner, The Trust Company as Trustee for the Fred P. Archer Charitable Trust.

The physical, mental and emotional challenges overcome by the students on the camp contribute to the aims of AIEF’s Pathways Program, which provides a wide range of activities to develop the personal skills necessary for a successful career.

AIEF CEO Andrew Penfold said the AIEF Outward Bound Experience is a valuable part of the AIEF Skills Development Program which prepares Indigenous students for life post-school and assists their transition into productive and fulfilling careers.


“Resilience, self-confidence and leadership are among the most important skills to pursue a productive career and the AIEF Outward Bound Experience is a great opportunity to develop and strengthen these skills.”

“After a successful pilot in 2011, we are glad to be partnering with Outward Bound again this year and look forward to seeing more Indigenous students emerge from the camp with more self-confidence, new friends and a better understanding of their own capabilities,” said Mr Penfold.

Nestled on the fringe of the Namadgi National Park in ACT, Outward Bound’s base is a unique setting for most of the students who attend boarding schools in cities and regional centres across Australia.  Being isolated from the creature comforts such as phones, television and the internet removes distractions and provides opportunity for reflection and goal-setting.

The program included a journey-based expedition that saw students trek through national park, participate in rock climbing, abseiling and ropes course activities and a series of physical and mental challenges that aim to empower them to realise they are capable of more than they may think.


One participant, Tanika, said she gained a lot of confidence in her own abilities during the course.

“On the Outward Bound Journey, I learnt that if you push yourself towards things you thought you couldn’t do, most of the time you can actually achieve it,” said Tanika.

While Tanika’s highlight of the program was reaching the summit of Mount Tennant, Dexter enjoyed the hiking experience throughout the whole week.

“The highlight for me was hiking for the first time, camping out for a whole week with no electricity and no shower and challenging myself to step up and see the amazing sights along the way,” said Dexter.

“On Outward Bound I learnt that if I set a goal and stick to it, it is possible to achieve it.”

Outward Bound CEO Benjamin Farinazzo said Outward Bound’s outdoor education program empowers participants to discover, develop and achieve their potential.

“We are founded on helping young people prepare for the challenges and uncertainty of life by developing the most positive elements of the human character consistent with our core values of integrity, responsibility, resilience, compassion, service and human potential,” said Mr Farinazzo.

“Outward Bound Australia is proud to partner with AIEF and The Trust Company once again to provide these personal development opportunities and encourage strong values-based leadership in these future Indigenous leaders and role models.”

As the leading provider of outdoor experiential learning programs, Outward Bound Australia has been helping Australian’s realise their potential and leadership abilities for over 50 years and delivers outdoor learning programs to thousands of students every year.

AIEF is a not-for-profit organisation that provides boarding school and residential university college scholarships and offers career pathways to empower marginalised Indigenous children to build a future through quality education and careers.

For more information about the work of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, visit

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