This week Indigenous Year 11 and 12 students from metropolitan, regional, and remote Australia are at National Indigenous Business Summer Schools (NIBBS) in Melbourne and Perth from 15 to 20 January 2023 to experience university life with teaching, support and inspiration from Indigenous mentors, business leaders and academics.

Developing entrepreneurial mindsets and building sustainable Indigenous businesses are key to empowering First Nations Peoples. However, currently, only 1.2% of all management and commerce students are Indigenous when Indigenous Peoples comprise 3.8% of the Australian population.

Many potential students are the first in their families to consider higher education and the challenges of living and studying outside their communities. Taking on such life-changing steps often requires them to be able to see what they can be well before finishing secondary school.

‘With Indigenous participation in business education remaining short of population parity, Australian business schools are collaborating to provide Indigenous students with fresh opportunities. NIBSS is raising awareness of, and interest in, a business education and driving change for young Indigenous students,’ ABDC President, Professor Keryn Chalmers, says.

All National Indigenous Business Summer Schools centre on a business case challenge through which student teams experience business in action. Also included are social and cultural activities like attending the Australian Open – where the Melbourne cohort will be inspired by meeting Evonne Goolagong Cawley on January 18 – museum tours, playing sports, and participating in yarning circles.

All NIBSS programs are collaborations between several universities and the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) with the costs of all student travel, accommodation on campus, food and activities fully covered, with the support of sponsors.

This year the NIBSS at The University of Melbourne, will be a collaboration with Monash University, RMIT and Swinburne University of Technology. The other, at Edith Cowan’s Mount Lawley Campus, is also be a place-based collaboration with Perth university business schools.

Since 2018, more than 150 have attended NIBSS programs in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Raymond Tilmouth, a recent Bachelor of Commerce graduate who is moving on to post-graduate study at The University of Melbourne, sums up the sentiments of many NIBSS attendees.

It was the Indigenous Liaison Officer at my school who told me about the NIBSS. I had been looking at – and applying for — lots of opportunities, but this one really stood out. It was a fantastic chance to connect with the community here in Melbourne and at the University. I learnt a lot, and I met a lot of brilliant people.’

Image: The Currency of Country, Ink on paper, 2017 ©Shawana Andrews

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