A Conversation with Arts Alumnus Jack Manning Bancroft

9 December 2010

Arts and Social Sciences Alumnus , Jack Manning Bancroft (BA (Media & Comm) 2007), has achieved much since his time at the University of Sydney. The 25-year-old founded the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), a not-for-profit charity linking Indigenous high school students with University mentors, back in 2005.

From its humble beginnings with 25 Indigenous students in Redfern, AIME has grown into a national project with 1000 university student volunteers supporting 1000 Indigenous high school students across the East Coast of the country. For his tireless work in expanding this essential program, Jack was named the 2010 New South Wales Young Australian of the Year.

Jack's vision for this unique one-on-one mentoring relationship has been hugely successful as the organistaion continues to strive for improved Year 10 and Year 12 high school completion rates, and greater university admission rates.

A Conversation with Jack Manning Bancroft

What does it mean to you to win the 2010 Young Alumni Award for Achievement?

Receiving the 2010 Young Alumni Award really confirms that the work we are doing at AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) is having a hugely positive influence on the university student body and the greater university community in general.

What are your happiest memories about your time here as a student?

Getting the chance to have a world-class education, and the freedom to make an impact on our society.

Who inspires you?

My ability to witness the program in action is unfortunately limited, but every chance I get to see the kids and mentors achieving and working together provides enough inspiration to last for months.

Who was your favourite Professor whilst you were a student at the University of Sydney and why?

I don't really play favourites but loved learning about philosophy and having the space to think about thinking.

What is your proudest achievement?

Still to come. I try not to get too caught up in what's been done. You can't change that. We've got a lot to do, and I've got a long life ahead. That's my focus.

Tell us more about AIME and how you started the organisation?

AIME is a mentoring program that partners Indigenous high-school students with Indigenous and non-Indigenous university mentors. We aim to raise the completion rates for Indigenous high-school students in Yrs 10 and 12 so they match (and surpass) national averages. In addition, we are striving to increase the national university admission rate of Indigenous students so that it to is on par with the rest of the nation.

When I first took 20 of my mates across to Alexandria Park Community School, the tension between the kids and the university students was thick and palpable. Not unlike going to the movies on a date, and you're waiting for the other person to make the first move. Once the mentoring pairs were sorted however, the body language of the kids told the greatest story: young people working with young people; Indigenous and non-Indigenous; safety and stimulus. It all made sense, and the body language of the kids from Alex Park confirmed that the program had legs and potential that is today being played out across the East coast of Australia.

What has been the most memorable mentoring success you have had?

Seeing that our kids are achieving Year 10, 12 completion and Uni admission rates higher than state and national averages and are leading a journey for Indigenous kids to finish school at the same rate as every Australian child.

What are your plans for the future?

My dream of wearing the baggy green for Australia still burns despite the current state of the Australian cricket team. More realistically, getting AIME to engage more students, schools and universities is driving my passion and planning. By 2020, we 'aim' to be mentoring 6000 Indigenous students across our nation - from Melbourne to Mt. Druitt, Adelaide to Alice.

What drives you?

Growing AIME nationally and reaching more kids.

What advice would you give to students graduating from the University of Sydney?

My high-school cricket coach always used to remind the team that you learn more from a loss than you do from a win. Putting yourself out there, trying new things and pushing your known limits are the surest means of personal development that I have encountered. Nothing bartered, nothing gained.

Contact: Emily Jones

Phone: 02 9351 2208

Email: 37013e2d2a16281623291f342b31310603315d2f4f1c57523d