The Walking Tall Together program aimed to engage young people positively academically as well as culturally. Camps for year 9 and 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students ran for three to four days in the January, April, July and September school holidays during 2015. Camps built participants’ knowledge, skills, aspirations and confidence in regard to education. Students attended a variety of academic workshops at different campuses during the day. In the evening they engaged in cultural activities including storytelling, painting and making tools (such as emu callers).
Camps were very much student-centred and catered to the whole student to enhance identity culturally, academically and personally. Each camp concluded with a celebration evening with elders, community members and families invited to attend a presentation and dinner.
The camps employed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students as well as teaching graduates to supervise participants and provide positive mentoring. This also created opportunities for the university students and graduates to gain professional experience as well as the skills to work positively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students. The program also involved non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students as a component of their teaching degree, helping them to work effectively and positively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.
A guidance booklet for parents and guardians of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students was produced as an adjunct to the program. It provides tips, advice and links to further resources on supporting students’ high school studies and educational aspirations, what to expect at university, and higher education opportunities.