Aboriginal health a priority
BALLINA High is celebrating after Jason Sines Junior became the first aboriginal Dux of the school.
Jason, 18, has been accepted into Medicine at the University of New South Wales and wants to work on improving aboriginal health.
"There's a huge discrepancy in health that shouldn't be occurring," he said.
"There's a 20-year difference in life expectancy and there are just some diseases that are rife in aboriginal community that don't occur anywhere else in such epic proportions."
Jason, who is a member of the Bundjalung people, has seen these health issues first-hand.
"I've seen it personally with a lot of my relatives who have passed away at a young age," he said.
"My grandmother passed away when she was young and this shouldn't be happening in a first world country."
Jason received marks in the highest band for mathematics and English extension one and his Australian Tertiary Admission Rank was 95.45.
Jason Sines Senior said his children valued education because their grandmother was forced to leave school early.
"My mother wasn't allowed to go past grade three because she had to go work as a domestic servant for farmers and other people," he said.
"She raised me in Ballina and pushed for us to go to school. So hearing that story taught us the importance of education as a way forward for kids, especially aboriginal kids."
As president of the Student Representative Council at Ballina High, Jason has become a role model to both indigenous and non-indigenous students. He's also president of the Leo Club, which was developed to introduce youth to the benefits of volunteering.
Angelique Sines said she was "blown away" by her son's results.
"I'm just overjoyed," she said. "He's always studied so hard and we're very proud of him. When we heard (his score) we were all tearing up. We were just overwhelmed."
DO AUSTRALIANS PUT A HIGH ENOUGH VALUE ON EDUCATION? TELL US BELOW.