Armed with a new set of business skills, 16-year-old Raymond Tilmouth is making plans for a scaled-up basketball tournament he started with friends in his hometown of Alice Springs two years ago.
Tilmouth was one of 18 year 11 and 12 students who took part in a business summer school hosted by the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Business and Economics over the summer break.
Students travelled from around Australia to spend a week at the university, living on campus and taking part in workshops, visiting corporations and being mentored by Indigenous entrepreneurs and university students.
Tilmouth says he plans to apply his new-found knowledge to the Alice Springs basketball tournament by making an “in depth” financial business plan for the event.
“Basketball gets (the kids) out of that toxic mindset that they’re going nowhere and there’s no-one out there for them, when really there are a lot of kids out there who are feeling the same,” he says.
KPMG senior management consultant Tye Vocale, a former University of Melbourne student, was one of the Indigenous mentors helping students with their cases during the week.
During his student years Vocale received support from Murrup Barak, the University of Melbourne’s Institute for Indigenous Development, and now he’s at a point where he can give back.
“I just want to give back as much as the university gave back to me,” he says.
“Education has been a big part of my life, and I think in Indigenous communities education is definitely a stepping stone towards more opportunities.
“The most important thing for me is seeing people wanting to go to university actually doing so, rather than being steered off in a different directions.
“So for me to come to try and help the growth of these programs, it means a lot.”
Vocale was himself once mentored by Ross Peek, who studied mechanical engineering at the University of Melbourne and is currently doing his MBA at the Melbourne Business School.
Peek, who works for Yarra Trams, was also a mentor for the high school students during the summer school, and says it’s a role he values highly.
“The program is about saying to the kids: what else is out there in the world? These students might make businesses in their communities, bring jobs and industry back to where they come from,” Peek says.
“I know that having positive people and mentors around, which got me through to the end of high school and got me out and in the workplace, had a massive impact on where I went.
“So if I could help someone just by having a conversation, I’m happy to help as anyone would be.
“I’m sure in a few years I’ll probably meet some of these people in university or in the workforce.”
For 16-year-old Estella Penny from Perth, meeting people who had been successful was inspiring.
“It gives me a lot of confidence that I can really do anything I put my mind to, and hearing their stories just made me tell myself, I can do anything I want to do,” she says.
She says she built her confidence in public speaking, which she will apply to her schoolwork.
“I’ll definitely take back the skills of meeting new people as well,” she says.
The National Indigenous Business Summer School is an initiative of the Australian Business Deans Council.
The University of New South Wales will host the event in 2019.
The National Indigenous Business Summer School was part of the Faculty of Business and Economics’ drive to have 1000 Indigenous business leaders in the next 10 years.