Creating meaningful partnerships to increase Indigenous student confidence and motivation towards university: The Stellar Program

lcj 17 coverTroy Irwin, Rachel Callahan & Beris Duroux

LCJ: Special Edition: Indigenous Pathways and Transitions into Higher Education, 17, pp. 102-111

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Irwin, T., Callahan, R., & Duroux, B. (2015). Creating meaningful partnerships to increase Indigenous student confidence and motivation towards university: The Stellar Program. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts [Special Issue: Indigenous Pathways and Transitions into Higher Education], 17, 102-111. DOI:



Stellar aims to increase the number of Clarence Valley students participating in university by creating meaningful partnerships between schools, business, government, community organisations and individuals. Stellar is able to create these partnerships because it is driven by the Clarence Valley Industry Education Forum (Forum) which is strongly connected to the community. Forum members are largely passionate Clarence Valley residents who provide direction, resources, and community links. Southern Cross University (SCU) and University of New England (UNE) jointly implement Stellar whilst the Forum provides input to the strategic direction and contributes to the implementation of activities.

Stellar has formed key relationships with Clarence Valley Indigenous communities facilitated by the Forum’s Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) member who has been instrumental from the beginning in shaping the Stellar operating principles and creating links and support with Indigenous communities.  

Stellar partners with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous high school students in the Clarence Valley. The initial design of Stellar was heavily focused around tailoring activities to partner with Indigenous students, families and communities. Stellar has become known as a program that works ‘with’ Indigenous people and connections have deepened by joint sharing and participation in Indigenous community activities. Stellar facilitates many opportunities both at school and through university visits for Clarence Valley students. They also learn from local role models ranging from current university students who recently graduated from their high school to professionals from local businesses through interactive activities designed to build knowledge of courses and careers and get students thinking that university is a possible option for them. Stellar also provides information and encouragement for teachers, parents and community so they are equipped to support their children to strive for higher education. Community activities are strongly partnered with Indigenous organisations and community members and are flexible so that they meet the needs of the community. Stellar’s engagement is early from Year 6 to Year 10 and sustained – at least two direct activities per year per year level in addition to community based activities. 


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