National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on August 4 is a time for all Australians to celebrate the impact that culture and family play in the life of Indigenous youth.

It is also an opportunity to showcase the communities working hard to raise strong and resilient future First Nations leaders.

Carinity Education in Queensland is doing its part to help develop young members of the world’s oldest surviving culture into important members of their communities.

Around 42% of all students in Carinity Education’s five schools – in Townsville, Brisbane, Rockhampton, Gladstone and Hervey Bay – are Indigenous. That’s about five times the percentage of First Nations youth across all schools in Queensland.

“Aboriginal children play an important role in carrying their culture into the future. Carinity is proud to support a large number of young Indigenous Australians who attend our schools,” Carinity CEO Jon Campbell said.

Almost 90% of students at Carinity Education Shalom in Townsville identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and many speak English as their second language.

Alice and her four children found a new extended ‘family’ at Carinity Education Shalom. The children receive an education, learn important life skills, and enjoy cultural experiences that celebrate them being Indigenous Australians.

“Shalom was the first contact for my children to be amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff. My children get to see how other Indigenous families live and learn in this safe environment. The children just love it because it is such a community and a close- connected school. They love how they can practice their culture: singing and dancing and knowing that they do have an extended Shalom community family, as well as their classroom education, students enjoy extensive cultural learnings including off-site excursions and activities,” Alice said.

Just as Carinity Education Shalom continues to grow due to its popular educational model, so too are its students growing to become well- rounded young people ready to contribute to their community.

“Being in a place like Shalom, my children are always learning. There is always a cultural experience to learn and discover. Shalom has been a safe place. I love seeing the children comfortable in their skin,” Alice said.