Strutting the streets with Indigenous mentoring

Sarah Cain, Partner, Enterprise

Growing up in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne, I didn’t have much, or any for that matter, interaction with Aboriginal people in my childhood. Learning Australian history in a classroom is one thing, but hearing the stories of the oldest continuous surviving culture in the world is entirely another.

My work at KPMG has taken me far and wide across our country and our globe, from counting crates of milk in Wagga Wagga, to writing training courses in sub-zero Toronto and building a team of audit professionals in New Delhi. But my core work has always been in our Enterprise team – a job I love because of its diversity. Every day is completely different when you’re working alongside business founders and owners to help them find solutions to their problems.

There is only one client however who has managed to get a group of 15 auditors to ‘Strut the Streets’ in budgie smugglers and bikinis to raise money for mentoring Indigenous high school students. AIME is an organisation that uses the simple tool of mentoring to produce astounding results in Indigenous student high school attainment and post school pathways; a program whose students consistently outperforms Year 12 attainment of their non-Indigenous high school peers.

Strut the Streets fundraiser

Walking alongside AIME on their journey from a start-up born of Jack’s great idea, to an organisation that has mentored 15,000 Indigenous high schoolers and expanded globally into South Africa, Uganda and the US has been phenomenal to watch and exciting to be involved in.

What other client when you walk into their open plan office in Redfern welcomes you by their R&B “audit” playlist?!

But more than that it has been a wonderful experience to learn about Aboriginal culture and the critical work AIME are doing, and absorb the buzz of a team of passionate and driven individuals trying to change the narrative of a dark chapter in Australia’s history. AIME is infectious. Their message and their amazing team delivering that message have captured Australia’s business leaders, global thought leaders and celebrities and everyone from KPMG who heads over to Redfern to tackle the audit playlist.

Working with AIME has led me to work with a number of Indigenous organisations including Supply Nation, the Australian leader in Indigenous supplier diversity and Tribal Warrior, who provide cruises, charters and mentoring programs. All of these organisations are doing amazing work to close the gap in education, employment, recognition and procurement from Indigenous businesses. There’s still plenty of work to do, as shown in the government’s 10th Closing the Gap Report released earlier this year.

These experiences in the life of an auditor have helped me to learn more deeply, reflect and find my own way to support the extraordinary strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.

Plus a wardrobe full of awesome hoodies.

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