As we celebrate with our 64 Year 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 2020 alumni, Southern Cross Catholic College (SCCC) alumnus Anthony Carter-Rankine has an especially unique story to tell.

For the first time in more than a decade, a remote indigenous community in the Northern Territory has a Year 12 graduate.

Anthony Carter-Rankine, from Ti Tree – the closest town to Alice Springs – is only the second ever male in the region to have completed their Higher School Certificate (HSC).

The Southern Cross Catholic College (SCCC) alumnus also gained a First Aid Certificate before graduating, and has since secured a job at the Central Desert Regional Council.

Ti Tree in the Northern Territory

Ti Tree in the Northern Territory, Anthony Carter-Rankine’s home.

“SCCC helped me gain my HSC and also some VET (Vocational, Education & Training) qualifications,” Anthony said. “By doing short courses, as well as securing part-time work, it helped me learn lots of skills that will assist me with my new job.”

Jane Bridges, Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) Wellbeing Specialist: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, applauded Anthony’s determination and perseverance.

“Anthony’s story is a tribute to himself and a great testament to SCS’ commitment to the education of young Aboriginal students” – Jane Bridges

“The barriers that Anthony faced were profound and were compounded by COVID,” Ms Bridges said.

“I pay tribute especially to his home community for trusting Anthony to the care of SCS and to the teachers that worked with him and the organisations that partnered with his school.”

The long road to completing the HSC

Anthony arrived at SCCC in Term 4 of 2019 from Ti Tree, a town with 110 people, according to 2016 Census figures.

For Anthony to complete Year 12, he had to give up many things and overcome many hurdles.

“Anthony had been at boarding school since Year 7 and made a lot of sacrifices for his education; time away from his family, overcoming homesickness and missing out on key events within his community,” Southern Cross’ coordinator of Diverse Learning, Anne Gleeson, said.

“When Anthony enrolled at SCCC at the beginning of Year 12, he explained that he wanted to gain his HSC and some trade qualifications so that he could take skills back to his community.”

“The SCCC staff wanted Anthony not only to gain his HSC, but ensure that he would be taking back useful skills to his community” – Anne Gleeson

“To Anthony’s credit, he undertook any opportunity that was offered at SCCC, such as doing social outreach at Exodus and Vinnies work placement.,” Ms Gleeson said.

But then came the COVID-19 school closures

Anthony had to return to his remote community in the Northern Territory and continue his studies remotely during the COVID-19 lockdown, dealing with poor internet connection, static/crackling on phone lines and adapting to being a more independent learner.

“The challenge for Anthony was to stay connected and motivated with remote learning and he was able to do this with the support of his family, particularly his mother Estelle,” said Ms Gleeson.

Anthony spoke about the lessons learnt.

“Having gained my HSC means that I can give back to my community and help other young people achieve their goals,” a modest Anthony Carter-Rankine said.

“When students go away to study, I can explain to them that ‘It is okay to feel homesick, but hang in there because it will be worth it in the end’.”