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Inspiring the next generation: Building confidence for the future with Katherine High School

Imagine you’re a Year 11 student from Katherine High School (KHS). You’re travelling for four hours by bus to reach Darwin and board a plane to Sydney. You can feel the excitement and nervousness of flying in a plane for the first time. You have never left the Northern Territory.

Now you’re in Sydney, Australia’s most populated city. You’re standing on Level 46 of the new Deloitte offices, taking in the sweeping views of Sydney Harbour. Over the next few days, you’ll be taking part in a series of innovation and immersive learning experiences run by the Deloitte Space and Monitor Deloitte teams.

Katherine High School in the Northern Territory (NT) is helping their Year 11 cohort break a record to become one of the biggest graduating classes in the school’s history. This cohort also has the potential to be the largest Northern Territory Aboriginal cohorts per capita to complete Year 12.

“Finishing high school translates to a plethora of improved outcomes including wellbeing, health, employment prospects and socio-economic status and we are working hard to ensure every student has the supports in place to reach this goal.”  Nick Lovering, Principal at Katherine High School. 

Feeling safe in a foreign place


Professor Deen Sanders, OAM and Deloitte Integrity Lead, personally welcomed the KHS students, teachers and Aunty May Rosas, a senior traditional owner of the Dagoman and Wardaman peoples, and acknowledged our place on Gadigal land (Sydney). Being Reconciliation Week, the significance of the two days for the KHS students was not underestimated. Deen and Aunty May spoke to the cohort, sharing their thoughts on the importance of culture in day-to-day life, being and feeling safe, growing as a person, and making the most of life’s opportunities.

“This was really important moment for us, not least because at times culture can feel abstract to young people, particularly in such a foreign place.” -  Greg Miller, English and Humanities at Katherine High School.

Day 1 | Bringing Space down to Earth


Deloitte’s Space team facilitated a hands-on problem-solving session modelled off their global program, GRAVITY Challenge.

Students were tasked with solving real-world problems being faced by companies using a combination of space technology and broader professional skills. The problems ranged from keeping remote health workers safe, to maintaining the cleanliness of waterways, to protecting the whales and dolphins from vessel strikes. 

After working together as a group, students presented their ideas and saw how close their solutions compared to how the world’s best space innovators solved the same challenges. 

The enormity of having our students pitch solutions to problems that real businesses are grappling with, in a corporate office of a world-leading organisation, is in some sense inconceivable, in another – why not”  - Greg Miller, Head of Department – English and Humanities at Katherine High School. 

Another key message from the Space team was showing the students how diverse skills and interests, not immediately linked to typical notions of STEM careers, are equally valued across the industry. Not only that; but bringing your uniqueness to a team environment makes for an unstoppable force.


“I've been passionate about equal access to quality education and opportunities, and this program shows students that they can do great things on Earth, in Space and beyond; the sky is the limit.” Sam Santos, Space Data and Technology Consultant and lead facilitator on the day.

Day 2 | Design Thinking & Leadership


"What came first: The chicken or the egg?”

With that controversial question, Declan Read, Senior Manager in Innovation & Ventures, kicked off the debate on Design Thinking and introduced the students to all concepts for needs analysis, value proposition definition and story lining. 

When we started with the prompt, define a problem for someone in your community, we were reminded of how diverse the experiences and perspectives of the students were. Some of the ideas included:

  • FishTech – helping to notify Katherine residents of dangerous crocodiles when fishing. 
  • CommunityConnect – a weekend market geared towards tackling challenges around homelessness and youth crime. 
  • World Youth Education Program – a boarding school concept for people coming from disadvantaged communities, combining learning with counselling, health support and basic necessities. 

Being a leader means being authentic, is the strong statement Deen Sanders introduced to the students. While extrinsic success might sometimes come easier by keeping a part of one-self at home, he says, you can create the biggest impact on the people around you by bringing your whole self everywhere, including your job. 

The students were then introduced to why knowing your strengths matter and encouraged to think far into the future with the question; It’s 2033 and you’re on the cover of TIME magazine. What do you want your story to be?

The results and priorities the students set for their lives showed an astonishingly wide range. Their visions included: Best Neurosurgeon of the year, Influential Community Leader, Best Dad of the year, Executive creative designer of the ocean clean-up initiative and Pro AFL Player, just to name a few.

Caroline Starecky, Director in Innovation & Ventures, closed out the session by talking to her leadership journey and the importance of having a clear leadership north star. The message to the students throughout the day was clear. Live an empowered life, seize opportunities, and become leaders who make an impact that matters in their communities and beyond.

The message to the students throughout the day was clear. Live an empowered life, seize opportunities, and become leaders who make an impact that matters in their communities and beyond.

“Every single student was a bright mind with unique and valuable experiences, so I can say with confidence that on that day I probably learned more from them than they did from me.”  - Tim Kreuziger, Senior Consultant in Innovation & Ventures and team facilitator on the day.


The postcode of your birth shouldn’t determine your educational outcome – we were able to take our students immeasurably forward through both building confidence and through practical business skills in today and tomorrow’s world.” Greg Miller, English and Humanities at Katherine High School.