Share via

Opening the Doors Foundation (OTDF) supporting improved educational opportunities for Aboriginal children.

With many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families still experiencing educational disadvantage, the Aboriginal-governed community organisation Opening the Doors Foundation (OTDF) is supporting improved educational opportunities for Aboriginal children.

The key to addressing this is enabling their children to access a nurturing and inclusive education from the beginning of their schooling. This is the goal of the Opening the Doors Foundation which now has a record of 19 years of successful outcomes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families having educational choice is a critical component to success. OTDF plays an active role in supporting the educational aspirations of Aboriginal families who elect to educate their children in non-government schools in Victoria. The Foundation provides financial assistance to families to help cover the cost of school uniforms, books, sporting requirements, camps and excursions, and other school-related expenditure which families outside the government school system are required to fund themselves.

Technology’s place in education has grown in the past decade and the Foundation has had many more families asking for support in procuring appropriate IT equipment for their children.  2020 has seen the Foundation face the highest demand for IT equipment ever, with the final figures set to be more than $40,000 on laptops alone.  

Established in 2001, OTDF supported 32 Victorian students in its first year and has steadily grown, with 815 students receiving grants in 2019.

To date some 8,500 requests for funding have been met by OTDF. During this time the Foundation has followed the journey of these Aboriginal children through primary and secondary school. Significantly, increasing numbers of Aboriginal students are now completing Year 12. Some families have remained in contact with the OTDF and reported on the post-school activities of their children. Many of those supported have now gained positions in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal agencies, including in leadership roles.

Over nearly two decades the OTDF has built strong connections with schools, families and funding partners. These bonds have given the Aboriginal community the confidence to seek OTDF support. ODTF in turn, rely on the support of schools, church groups and individual and families to assist in fundraising.

At the same time major contributions from philanthropic partners have allowed the Foundation to meet the growing need, but over the past 18 months, there has been a worrying decline in philanthropic support as the economic conditions have deteriorated and some major philanthropic partnerships have ended; this at a time when the economic conditions are affecting Aboriginal families and making supports such as that offered by OTDF even more in demand.

OTDF is now urgently searching for new philanthropic partnerships. The difference this organisation makes is best illustrated by the families who have experienced the benefit of this support:

“He had a smooth transition into secondary school this year. Your support ensured he had all the uniforms, school bag and shoes and books he needed which we may not otherwise have able to afford. I don’t know if you realise how much this support alleviates the stresses, so we are able to give our children a good education” - parent.

“I attended a culture camp at Lake Mungo with other Aboriginal students. This was an amazing camp that helped me deepen my spirituality and knowledge of my culture and land” - student.

“To have my child feel confident, proud and belonging to school with new uniforms and to be able to go on excursions and camps and participate in school activities has boosted his self-esteem and individual confidence. Thank you OTDF, this has helped in such a positive way” - parent.

Find out more

This organisation is supported by trusts managed by Equity Trustees.