Education Editor for The Age
When funding for Thornbury High’s Koori mentorship program was axed the school had two options: lose the tutors and project officer who got indigenous students’ “butts to school” or try to scrape together the money itself.
The thought of the program ending was devastating. The 52 indigenous students would miss out on 40 hours a week of tutoring in maths and literacy. No more home visits from indigenous project officer Guy Neaves, no safe place to go.
“I reckon that’s why I got to year 10,” says Meriki Cooper. “I would have left”.
Josh Basso was at school the day The Sunday Age visited because Mr Neaves had got him out of bed. “He gets my butt to school. He woke me up [and] said: ‘I’m going to be there in five’. He relates to us because he is Aboriginal, he’s known in the community, he knows my auntie and stuff”.