Liam Flanagan is a finalist in the 2018 Victorian Training Awards Koori Student of the Year.

He moved from Darwin to Melbourne when he was 15 years old seeking education and adventure.

Now, the 22 year old is the Boarding Coordinator at Melbourne Indigenous Transitional School (MITS).

‘I am proud to be a finalist because I realise people have noticed the effort I have put into my work.’

‘I am also proud as a young Indigenous man to be representing my people and culture. ‘

‘It excites me to think that I am paving the way for future students, especially for the young mob I work with now.’

Having been a boarder himself Flanagan knows the value of a transitional program.

The separation from his family and friends to the ‘alien’ town of Ballarat was a shock.

‘In my first year I spent a lot of time by myself.’

‘The more I was alone, the more time I spent thinking about home and family.’

‘Being homesick is the biggest negative about being so far away from home.’

‘That’s why I love my job at MITS.’

‘The students are young and new to Melbourne like I was.’

‘So, I want to make sure that they settle in well and enjoy their time before starting school.’

‘A transitional program would’ve made my time in Ballarat a little easier. ‘

‘For me, coming from a school of 600 into a school of 1,300 was difficult.’

‘I’ve noticed that MITS students’ are not as shocked like I was when they transition into school.’


Liam Flanagan speaking at a recent MITS event


Flanagan encourages students to keep active to prevent missing home too much.

He also says talking to the teachers, volunteers and other students is a great way to help yourself.

‘Talking to one another helps to understand that feelings of missing home are normal.’

‘But the only way students will work out how to deal with homesickness is to go through it.’

‘Even being away now for work and study is still as hard as it was for me in my first year at Ballarat.’

‘I have been away for almost 5 years and I have found sport and public speaking at MITS social events helpful.’

‘Also, my partner has been a great support.’

‘I have always had a fantastic support network which has helped me through tough times.’

MITS Students raised $11,500 in Run Melbourne on Sunday, 29 July, joining 20,0 other people in the half marathon event.

Flanagan says the morning running club has been popular with students and staff in the lead up to the event.

‘It excites me that our students brave the cold weather to run.’

‘It’s even more exciting to see how far they have come from their first run to running in an event.’

‘But what resonates with me is that they are thinking about paving the way for future students of MITS.’


On an early Friday morning run with MITS students


Flanagan completed a dual Diploma in Sports Development, Coaching and Management from the Richmond Institute of Sports Leadership and Swinburne University of Technology.

He also completed a Certificate II in Indigenous Leadership.

Tickets to the 2018 Victorian Training Awards are on sale now.

Written by Rachael Hakim