Raising the Bar in Sport and Study

Physiotherapy, medicine, zoology.

These are some of the subjects that 25 Indigenous high-school students want to study after getting a taste of university life through Raise the Bar Academy 2020, a joint initiative between the University of Melbourne and Athletics Australia that is in it’s sixth year.

The participants, who hailed from all corners of Australia, spent last week at the University’s Parkville campus discovering pathways to tertiary education and employment through high-performance sport.

They learned about nutrition from current Collingwood Football Club players while also meeting the Club’s first Indigenous female player, Machaelia Roberts, who spoke about the challenges and rewards of relocating for sport. They also spent time building resumes and were connected with their local Coles (Athletics Australia’s major sponsor) outlet to explore job opportunities.

But it was their time with the faculties of Arts, Design, Engineering, and Science that sparked interest among many.

“In the future I hope to study sports science and specialise in physiotherapy,” said year-11 student Mackenzie Long from Evans Head in northern NSW, while Western Sydney’s Cassandra King hopes to “study either medicine or zoology”.

Bachelor of Science student Jasper Howell joined Raise the Bar as a mentor to support and nurture such aims.

“If I had to sum up why I wanted to be a part of the camp, it was to meet so many talented and interesting people that I could potentially study with in the future,” said Howell, a talented basketballer who plays for the Melbourne University Basketball Club in the semi-professional BigV league.

Following his Science degree, Howell hopes to pursue physiotherapy so he can help those in rural and remote communities.

“The University of Melbourne provides one of the best Physiotherapy courses across Australia, so it seemed like a no-brainer to me to choose to study here.”

“I have grown to love and be absolutely fascinated by human anatomy, and the job will not only allow me to help others but also myself. I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to travel to remote communities and use my knowledge to help people take care of their bodies and become more active and healthy, because as studies show, remote communities are, per capita, the most affected by access to facilities and health care.”

Raise the Bar participants were mentored by elite athletes including Olympian Kyle Vander-Kuyp to improve their athletics skills, while also developing their coaching abilities with a course delivered by Athletics Australia. They heard from elite student athletes, including 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jemima Montag (BSc ’21) about goal setting and building support networks.

Program coordinator Kylie Italiano said that this year’s Academy focused giving participants life skills for now and into the future.

“The main goal of the program is to drive aspiration for participants and show them tangible pathways from secondary school, to university and through to employment.

“It’s hard to envisage entering an environment that you don’t know, so Raise the Bar Academy helps to familiarise participants with university life and tertiary education.”

Melbourne University Athletics Club has been involved with the program since it’s inception six years and is proud to continue it’s support.

with Liam Patterson, Melbourne University Sport
RTBA 2020