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AIME-ing high in Australian economy

Steph White reports on the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience.

A KPMG report released in December 2013 has found the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) produced a net benefit of $38 million for the Australian economy in 2012.

The report also found AIME’s return on investment is approximately $7 in benefits for every $1 spent, with most investment coming from universities and corporate partners.

The reported 700% return is based upon the projected value of education and employment to the Australian economy. An AIME student who completes a university degree can be expected to earn up to $332,000 more over their lifetime compared to an Indigenous person who does not complete high school.

KPMG’s findings were based on the likely schooling pathways for students who participated in the program in 2012 compared to the average Indigenous student in the country.

The report calculated that the total lifetime earnings of the 2012 AIME cohort are expected to be $59 million higher than the lifetime earnings of a same-sized population of Indigenous students around the country. AIME students were also found to be more likely to complete year 12 than the average non-Indigenous student.

AIME is a not-for profit that runs mentoring programs for Indigenous students. Jack Manning Bancroft, an alumnus of the University of Sydney, founded the organisation. He started the program when he was 19, and is now one of Australia’s youngest CEOs at 26.

Sydney University students have been active in the program since its inception, according to Adam Linforth, AIME’s Director of Finance and Partnering.

“Much of the thanks has to go to University of Sydney students and the contributions they have made since we started the program back in 2005,” he said.

“The time and effort that those students have put in over the years has helped AIME to expand around Australia, and supported the next generation of Indigenous kids to finish school and head to Uni, employment or further education.”

What started as a small program of 25 students and 25 mentors in a single Redfern school is now a large countrywide operation. Last year 1,000 university students from nine universities volunteered to assist 2,000 high school students from 121 schools through a variety of programs. On top of this, AIME employs 100 staff and has partnered with companies such as Google, Virgin Australia and Coca-Cola.

“It’s pretty humbling to see what AIME has done for a lot of different people,” Bancroft said in an interview with Australian Story. “Personally, I think that it doesn’t make sense today that an Australian kid who is Indigenous doesn’t have the same chances that every other Australian kid has. And until I can see an Australia where that happens, I don’t think I’ll be happy or satisfied.”