Students pose at the most recent Power SAASTA Connect Cup at Alberton. Image: Angus Northeast.

THE statewide demand from South Australian schools to bring the Power SAASTA Connect Cup program into the classroom has resulted in a sizeable waitlist for 2024.

After experiencing significant demand since inception three years ago, the program, which is delivered in partnership between Power Community Limited (PCL) and the South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academy (SAASTA), has now doubled in size since inception, with the proven impact and influence resulting in the demand being as strong as ever.

The Power SAASTA Connect Cup is an education-based strategy that engages First Nations students in years 7, 8 and 9 in their education, culture, community, and identity, and is a carefully crafted as a direct and tangible pathway into PCL’s industry leading Santos Aboriginal Power Cup.

Through a series of engaging sessions in the classroom, students explore and embrace First Nations culture, and is designed to address the National Closing the Gap targets aligned to health, wellbeing, education, employment, and economic participation.

With an AFL carnival held at Alberton Oval as its centrepiece to encourage participation, students learn about specific KPI’s in the classroom throughout the school year in the lead up to attend the carnival.

Proven impact has resulted in high demand for the program within South Australian schools. Image: Angus Northeast.

SAASTA Manager, Aboriginal Pathways Directorate of Student Pathways and Careers Division, Tara Budarick credits the KPI’s and the program’s pathways as an integral part of the program and impact.

“KPI’s are really important across all of the schooling. We look at strong attendance, behaviour, and attitude to learning so that students can do well in the classroom and make the most of the opportunities,” Mrs. Budarick said.

“When students have the opportunity to do this program in the middle years, they can then learn the behaviours that are going to help them go on to join our year 10 program in SAASTA, and then go onto complete the Santos Aboriginal Power Cup”.

PCL’s Head of Programs, Braedon Talbot said the demand for the program reflects the partnership between the club’s not-for-profit arm and SAASTA.

“The partnership between PCL and SAASTA to deliver both the Power SAASTA Connect Cup and the Santos Aboriginal Power Cup is a testament to both parties,” Mr. Talbot said.

Through a series of engaging sessions in the classroom, students explore and embrace First Nations culture. Image: Angus Northeast.

“We’ve collectively crafted a program that effectively addresses the National Closing the Gap targets and has a genuine, authentic, and tangible impact on First Nations students statewide.

“To have the program double in size in three years, with a sizeable waitlist for 2024 is incredible and is a direct reflection on real impact and success these programs are having in the classroom.

“With the introduction of this program in conjunction with the industry leading Santos Aboriginal Power Cup, First Nations students statewide now have a tangible and engaging platform from years 7 through to 12 to remain committed to their education and future career pathways.

The highly-successful program has doubled in size over the last two years. Image: Angus Northeast.

“Creating these pathways for First Nations students is critical, and continual expansion and growth of these programs to continue to change the lives of young people is a sole focus for PCL in 2024 and beyond”.

Parafield Gardens High School student Mahleaha Buckskin credits the PCL and SAASTA program as a significant factor in helping improve her confidence.

“I like being in the program with other Indigenous kids. It’s helped my confidence in being one of the Indigenous kids at my school. I love being here (at the AFL carnival) and interacting with the other kids,” Miss Buckskin said.