Director of Koori Communications and Training, Peter Cooley, has been the recipient of a number of awards for the programs he has developed as well as speaking at a number of international conferences on educating Indigenous youth.
PETER'S LONG TERM VISION LEADS TO CHILDREN'S WEEK AWARD 2005
Engaging young people in education can be a tough challenge, but Peter Cooley's racing car project for young people has not only helped them stay at school, it has won him a 2005 NSW Department of Community Services' (DoCS) Children's Week Award.
A La Perouse local, Peter knew that young people in the area lacked opportunities. He set about putting them on the right track by starting Racing to the Top classes for young people at risk of leaving Matraville Sports High School. "Racing to the Top has given young people in southern Sydney the opportunity to learn new skills and find pride in their own capacity to achieve," Minister for Community Service and Youth, Reba Meagher said.
With a passion for finding a more just and equitable society, Peter has used his skills as a TAFE automotive teacher and Qantas mechanic to run a course where young people learn to build and maintain their own model racing cars. The program engages students in learning and helps to instill long term leadership and organisation skills. "The program has been successful in improving school attendance and now Peter has taken leave from his regular work to extend the program to other schools in the area," Ms Meagher said.
Joy Murray from the Benevolent Society's Leadership Program nominated Peter and said he was an inspiring leader who got results from young people because he was demanding and respected them. "This was Peter's brilliant idea. There is nobody else who could have got these results out of the kids," she said. "It's his respect for the kids that makes it so successful - they know his uncompromising attitude is because he wants them to do well. "If this were the only thing Peter had achieved with young people in his community it would be cause for celebration, but building on this success he has offered the local schools a range of opportunities such as his Chip N Putt golf program which gives 48 mostly Aboriginal students the chance to learn golf with a professional teacher."
La Perouse boy wins place on the Future
Peter Cooley, was one of 25 young leaders from around
Each year the Future Summit announces leadership awards for younger, rising stars in their fields who are given the opportunity to attend the forum and hear from experts in many different areas. This year's speakers included Kevin Rudd, Ms Sharon Burrow, Dr Helen Caldicott and Mr Tom Calma … just to name a few.
Peter was recognised for the youth programs that he has developed that engage young people in education and skill development.
Peter says of his leadership style: "We all need to look to our own experience and relationships to give something back to the community we come from. "I'm promoting respect as a way to achieve my vision as that's what I learned from my own upbringing as an Aboriginal person.
"Many people ask why my youth programs work and my answer is simple, "Respect" - it works both ways. I get results from youth because I'm strict and demand respect, good attitudes, and attendance at school. I also respect them back for rising to the challenges I set set them."
"I've had to think outside the square to develop programs that keep youth engaged in education and skill-building, and I'm always searching for new ideas to help keep them focused. It can be hard selling your vision. I still find that many people who are trying to get youth on the right track would rather pay for a program that just occupies time rather than investing in a program that teaches them skills and values over a period of time."
Peter has also been awarded the Pauline McLeod award for Reconciliation in 2006 and the 2005 NSW Children's Week child development award.
He sits on the Board of Aboriginal Tourism Australia and the NSW Advisory Council for Recreational Fishing.
His Racing to the Top remote control race car program operates in schools and youth services across NSW and his Catch N Cook fishing
program has been funded by the Federal Government to run in 10 locations across NSW.
Premier's Excellence Awards Recognising Leadership in Aboriginal communities
Recognising that Aboriginal community strength and commitment is key to closing the gap on Aboriginal disadvantage, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon Paul Lynch MP, announced the Inaugural Premier's Excellence Awards Recognising Leadership in Aboriginal Communities during NAIDOC Week 2008. The awards provide the opportunity for both communities and the Government to recognise the invaluable work that is already underway and for the tireless effort that is being made by Aboriginal people across the State. It is open to people or Aboriginal organisations delivering services to the community in key categories reflecting the NSW State Plan focus. The award winners were announced at a special event on Monday 17 November 2008.
Peter won this award in the area of Education - Learning and Knowledge. Peter runs a two stroke engine program in schools that has an 85% retention rate and has had a positive flow on effect to the overall student's school participation rates - especially in Year's 9 and 10 when Aboriginal students are at most risk of disengaging from the school system. His program also deals with low literacy rates in students by getting them to build their cars by reading diagrams and works on numeracy skills by using practical examples relevant to cars. The program is taught via the building of a remote control race car which students get to keep if they remain in the school system.