Kangaroo burgers, bush tomato relish and native herbs have found a place on the menu at Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College (SCCVC) Burwood in a bid to boost the school completion rate of Indigenous students.
The College, which allows Year 11 and 12 students to get a head-start on a trade while completing their Higher School Certificate, has partnered with the Sydney Institute TAFE to deliver a hospitality training program that aims to expose Indigenous students to different Vocational Education and Training options.
Year 9 and 10 students from De La Salle College Ashfield made the kangaroo burgers and other meals with ingredients sourced from the bush during a week in SCCVC’s kitchens from May 18.
The school’s Hospitality Manager Jenny Newman said the students developed meal preparation skills, and learnt the hygiene and work, health and safety practices employed in a commercial kitchen.
“Students in the program learn how to cook modern dishes using Indigenous herbs and spices,” she said. “The program gives them a taste of their culture and the chance to explore their passion for cooking.”
Year 10 student Christopher Zagoudis said the program confirmed his desire to enter the hospitality industry.
“It’s a big passion of mine, I’m always helping out the kitchen at home,” he said. “The program was a great experience because it allowed me to see what I am capable of, and what skills I need to work in a commercial kitchen.
“I learnt different methods of cooking, how to make dough for pastry, and how to properly use knives.The best dish to cook was the barramundi because it’s very different from what I eat at home.”
Anton Ferguson and Issac Bamblet, both in Year 9, said the experience opened their eyes to the level of effort and energy required to prepare and serve a meal.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Outcomes from Vocational Education and Training in Schools report figures show an increase in school completion rates for Indigenous students who took part in vocational education of 17 per cent between 2006 and 2011. But figures show high school completion rates for Indigenous students are 27.8 percentage points behind the national rate for all other students, with boys less likely to finish Year 12. The Federal Government has set a target to halve this gap by the year 2020.