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First Nations students celebrate success at Year 12 graduation

First Nations scholarship students from high schools across the Gold Coast celebrated their graduation in a special event at Bond University this week.

The Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation (QATSIF) provides scholarships for students to attend Gold Coast high schools, funded through the interest generated by stolen wages repayments.

It was the first time since 2019 graduands were able to gather in person and celebrate their achievements. The Chungarra Dancers from Keebra Park State High and Didgeridoo players from Benowa State High kept the 100-strong crowd of students, families and friends entertained. 

Bond University Provost Keitha Dunstan, a proud descendant of the Mandandanji people of south-west Queensland, gave the opening address. She was also officially welcomed as the newly appointed Chair of the QATSIF Board by Deputy Chair Jane Ceolin.

Professor Dunstan congratulated the students for the dedication and commitment they had shown to completing Year 12 under the challenging circumstances created by the Covid19 pandemic.

Reflecting on the achievements of Australia’s athletes at the Commonwealth Games, Professor Dunstan noted that hard work and dedication were needed on top of talent to succeed at the highest levels.

“If you have people in your life that encourage you and offer the right support, that makes a difference. But to succeed you also need to have self-belief,” she said.

“That’s where your inner self-confidence comes in. And I’d like to say to you all today that you have already completed a fabulous achievement in finishing Year 12.

“Today is a time to celebrate your successes and look forward to future opportunities and even more success as you go through life.”

QATSIF Secretariat Director Michael Naylor said the foundation had supported more than 14,300 high school students throughout its life, and he congratulated the schools, parents and loved ones of students graduating.

“I would like to recognise the huge efforts put in by all of our school communities over the past 12 years to educate, care for and support these wonderful young people,” he said.

“Especially the love and support of all of our parents, carers and families that have created and moulded these incredible young leaders.”

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