National Indigenous Australians Agency
More than 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students visited Canberra this week (20-25 October) to attend the Work Exposure in Government (WEX) program.
WEX provides career advice to the students and exposes them to different career opportunities in the Australian Public Service.
Supported by the NIAA, the students came from every state and territory in Australia except the ACT. Their week included visits to the Tent Embassy, the Museum of Australian Democracy, the National Museum of Australia, the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Australian War Memorial.
They spent a full day at the Australian Parliament House where they observed Question Time and met with various members of parliament including Aboriginal Member for Barton, NSW, Linda Burney.
Some met with the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Honourable Ken Wyatt MP and all of them were photographed with the Prime Minister, the Honourable Scott Morrison MP.
On Thursday, the students attended a career expo where they received career advice from representatives from 19 government departments and agencies.
David Boyd from the Defence Force stall said there were many options available to Indigenous students in the Australian Defence Force.
‘You can come in and be a leader. You can do a trade or you can come in and do a general entry job. We have pathway assistance to help you through the process if you need it,’ David said.
‘This expo is awesome. It gets everyone in one spot and all the kids are really interested and they are coming up and asking some really good questions.’
Kayla Muir (16) from St Catherine’s School in Waverley, NSW said she came to WEX not knowing what to do in the future.
‘I feel this expo has really opened my eyes and shown me pathways on how to get in and the opportunities that certain jobs have for Indigenous people,’ Kayla said.
After arriving at WEX, students are organised into groups led by a mentor. Ella Scott from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was mentor to Kayla.
‘The biggest change for me has been seeing the students stretch out of their comfort zones and to challenge themselves,’ Ella said.
‘Kayla has definitely come out of her shell. She started off really quiet in the group but she’s been doing really well in progressing and being able to challenge even myself on some of the things that I say and holding me accountable and others accountable in the group for challenging themselves and achieving their goals this week.’
And that’s the value of WEX. It provides information and direction but also helps students develop confidence, something they need to make decisions about their future.
Applications for WEX 2020 open mid-year. Read more at Work Exposure in Government (WEX).