Jason Lawton has enrolled to do a Diploma in Business at the new Australian Indigenous College in Rockhampton. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Jason Lawton has enrolled to do a Diploma in Business at the new Australian Indigenous College in Rockhampton. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

Rocky chosen for indigenous-only college to transform lives

ROCKHAMPTON is the second city to see an Australian Indigenous College open its doors to the public and Jason Lawton could not be happier.

Jason, 37, had never taken tertiary courses but decided to enrol in a diploma of business after attending the college's open day on Wednesday.

The Rockhampton man was nervous about starting his diploma but found comfort in knowing the college focused on improving educational outcomes for people like himself.

Jason said he enrolled in the course because he wanted to have the skills to run start his own business.

"Me and my uncle have been talking and have an idea of what we want to do, we want to start a tour guide business and run guided tours in Carnarvon Gorge," he said.

"I hope to get my business off the ground, get started and become known…it's never too late to learn."

Jason said he chose the program because of how the staff incorporated culture and traditional learning into the business diploma.

"It's good to have something like this in the community…it will help me with the business planning side of things too," he said.

"I'm actually trying to do a family business because my uncle told me if I do this diploma and get everything done then me and him would go into a partnership."

National Manager Annette Simpson said the programs were put in place to help improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people just like Jason.

"Our eight-way learning is an Aboriginal method that makes learning relevant to the students' everyday lives and connects them with community, kinship and culture," Annette said.

"We provide a nurturing and caring learning environment that is culturally appropriate and welcomes community, family and friends to visit and get involved."

Annette said Rockhampton was an ideal location for the college's second campus, following the opening of the college at Goodna.

"Rockhampton was chosen for our second AIC due to the high population of Indigenous Australians in the area and nearby towns," she said.

"AIC Rockhampton will also be the first of our campuses to have a roaming tutor, who will visit Woorabinda, Gladstone, Biloela and Yeppoon, and set up study groups in those areas."

Annette said she encouraged people like Jason to give the program a go because of the pathways it created and the opportunities it allowed.

"Some of our students who graduated from AIC were the first in their family to complete a diploma and graduate," she said.

"I love to see people believe in themselves and achieve things they never thought could happen. I want this for my people."



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