Do you remember your child’s first day at senior school? You’ve taken her photo to share with family and friends. You convince her, “You’ll grow into the blazer.” You drop her at the school gates. She frantically waves you away!
Can you picture your daughter? What is she feeling? Apprehension? Anticipation?
Now imagine, the gate isn’t a school gate. It’s an airport gate. She’ll be travelling over 3500km to her new school. It’s the first time she’s been away from home. She’s boarding a plane. For the first time. And she’s the only one from your community. Another first. She’s on her way ‘cross the milky way!
She’ll be one of twenty-two students starting a Year 7 program at the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS). As her parent or guardian, you’ll be travelling with her. You’ll be part of her Orientation program at the MITS specialist boarding school.
From Pirlangimpi to Punt Road Oval
Melbourne Indigenous Transition School work with families from remote Northern Territory communities across Arnhem Land, the Tiwi Islands, the Victoria Daly Region and the Roper Gulf Region to help them transition to education in Melbourne.
MITS first opened its doors to support young indigenous students, from remote Top End and regional Victoria, pursue away-from-home schooling in 2016. Or perhaps, it’s correct to say, the Tigers opened their doors! Because the students attend their MITS’ classrooms inside Richmond Football Club’s Korin Gamadji Institute at Punt Road Oval.
One proud mother, from Pirlangimpi, Melville Island, Northern Territory, has seen two of her daughters bridge that first day at MITS. She says, “The MITS staff have been so supportive. They’re great with their communication. They’re brilliant!”
Joining the MITS Family
According to MITS, ‘the students join a Year 7 program, which enables them to transition into Melbourne schools while remaining culturally strong and connected with their families.’
After the year-long program, the students become alumni students and transition to Year 8 at one of eight Melbourne Partner Schools. They continue to be a part of a ‘MITS Pathways Program, which provides support, advocacy and advice to the students, their families, their schools and their host families’.
Things got a little shaken up in 2020. However, with their ‘can-do’ attitude, MITS relocated to a temporary home at the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre in Darwin. Students either boarded at the school or stayed with family around Darwin and were shuttled to school each day in loaned minibuses. This meant that the students, including three Victorian Year 7 students, could continue their classroom studies.
In 2021, 82 students are back in Melbourne; inclusive of twenty-two Year 7 students.
Alumni Boarding House for Girls
What’s Beaumaris Rotary’s involvement? Well, some of the gold coin donations received at the Farmers’ Markets and other events go towards supporting MITS’ boarding house for the alumni students located on Richmond Hill.
It’s our small contribution. Maybe, we were inspired by Heather Nova’s lyrics to the song, I Wanna Be Your Light: “I’ll light your way ‘cross the milky way.”
We encourage you to learn more about the 32 staff, 115 volunteers, 12 partner schools, 33 remote and regional communities and 82 students that together make up the MITS family go to https://mits.vic.edu.au
MITS acknowledges and respects the traditional custodians of the land on which it is based, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and pays respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
If you’re interested to learn more about any other of our projects, please contact our Membership Director in the first instance. Let her know your interest and she’ll put you in touch with the right person.
Please contact Megan:
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0418 578 114
Megan’s our Beaumaris Rotary Membership Director. The title sounds a little formal but trust us, she’s the friendliest person you’ll ever meet!