A holistic, community approach to the final years of high school is assisting students Melbourne's north west to reach their academic potential.

Grant Type
Economic Empowerment

For 40+ years, Banksia Gardens Community Services has supported Broadmeadows as a neighbourhood house, school, community garden, registered charity and advocate for community development.

Hundreds of young people come through Banksia Gardens each week for homework and after-school clubs. So it was a natural step to create a program to support students into higher education.

“Sometimes, if you are an aspiring young person studying in a local school, your desire for further study is almost something you need to hide,” says Jaime de Loma-Osorio Ricon, deputy CEO/Northern Centre for Excellence in School Engagement director.

“We saw the gap for a supportive community with educators and student peers encouraging each other to reach their potential.”

The Aiming High program began in 2012 and has opened opportunities for hundreds of VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) students in the Hume City Council area in north-western Melbourne.

Weekly study sessions give students access to tutors and mentors. They learn about university life and career options, apply for part-time jobs and scholarships, attend industry-based excursions, build communication and organisational skills, visit career expos and more.

“When our students come to the sessions in either Broadmeadows or Craigieburn, they are recognised for their other interests, like music or science, and feel safe to talk about them,” Jaime says. “And they push each other in those interests and that commitment to lifelong learning.”

Schools identify participants for Aiming High, based on their potential to do well and barriers they face.

“There are lots of families from overseas in the Hume area and their parents don’t necessarily understand the education system, so Aiming High takes a community partnership approach,” Jaime says.

“If the students are experiencing issues with housing, family violence or mental health, Aiming High can connect them to the right support and experts. That’s why the holistic and community-building part of this program is just as important as the tutoring.”

Over 300 participants have been involved with the program since it began and the majority have achieved places in tertiary institutions. Some former students have returned to the program as tutors and speakers.

Aiming High receives small amounts of funding from the Hume City Council and free access to libraries in Craigieburn and Broadmeadows to host the study sessions.

The Bennelong Foundation supported the program for 12 months in 2022-23.  

Read more about the program here.

Impactful results

The Benefit

Banksia Gardens has enabled students in a disadvantaged Melbourne suburb to participate in education opportunities.


More opportunities for young people in a disadvantaged area to learn, work and connect with others.


Better access to the education young people in a disadvantaged area need to open opportunities to future income pathways.

"This is probably one of the most disadvantaged pockets in the whole of Victoria. We try to provide young people growing up in Broadmeadows with the same opportunities they would have growing up in any other suburb in Melbourne."

Jaime de Loma-Osorio Ricon

Deputy CEO, Northern Centre for Excellence

Image Gallery

Explore more stories of impact

Read how our partners are creating opportunities for people to shape their own futures.