Bond University has marked the start of National Reconciliation Week by announcing it has enrolled the largest cohort of Indigenous students in the University’s 32-year history.
Provost, Professor Keitha Dunstan, said 76 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students were studying this semester.
“Through the generosity of our partners, and through a significant contribution from the University, we were able to award 16 scholarships this year representing an investment of over $1 million,” Professor Dunstan said.
The scholarships are spread across a range of degrees including the Medical Program, Film and TV, Architecture, Laws, and Entrepreneurial Transformation.
Professor Dunstan said the University was proud of its 91 percent success rate for Indigenous students, compared to a sector average of 71 percent.
One of the Indigenous scholars, Jedda Gardiner-Dodd, said she had wanted to study at Bond since Year 7 but it would have been out of reach without financial support.
“I'm one of four kids. (The scholarship) meant that I was able to get a university education which my siblings haven’t been able to do.
“My parents are so thankful. And the support here … I don't think we would have gotten it at any other university.”
Ms Gardiner-Dodd said she hoped to become a lawyer and help the Indigenous community.
Clarence Property Group Managing Director Peter Fahey is one of the University’s corporate partners supporting Bond’s Indigenous program.
Explaining his motivation, he said scholarships had transformed the lives of his grandfather’s 12 children following the Great Depression, with all attending boarding school and nine going on to university.
“As I grew up I watched my father and my uncles and aunts make significant contributions in different forms to themselves, their families, and their communities, assisted by the confidence that they gained from their education,” Mr Fahey said.
“It's not a quick fix. It's an intergenerational process. But as one gets educated the benefits can cascade through families and communities.
“Giving a few dollars to help is the easy bit. The hard work is done here (at Bond).”
Professor Dunstan thanked all of the corporate backers, particularly Margaret Douglas of the Optical Superstore, and Douglas Murphy QC and Geri Murphy.
Indigenous students at Bond are backed by the University’s Nyombil Centre which provides academic and cultural support during their studies.
Bond University is hosting a series of events as part of National Reconciliation Week, capped by the Bond University AFL Indigenous Round on Saturday, with players wearing a themed jersey designed by artist Narelle Urquhart who is the University’s Indigenous Engagement Advisor.