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Indigenous Gala raises $1 million for Indigenous education

The Bond University Indigenous Gala has hit the magic million, with an unprecedented $364,000 raised this year alone to educate young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, taking the total amount raised since the event was established to more than $1 million.

The 2015 Indigenous Gala, held on Friday (13 November) at Bond University's Sports Hall, was attended by over 550 people including the Honourable Leeanne Enoch MP, Member for Algester, Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Science and Innovation; Dr Patrick Corrigan AM and rugby league legends Mal Meninga AM and Preston Campbell.

Iconic Australian performer Christine Anu was the keynote speaker and headline acts at the event, captivating the audience as she spoke of life growing up in the Torres Strait and her journey to becoming one of the nation's most loved performers.

She closed out the evening with an hour-long musical performance of hits spanning her successful 20 year career, such as 'Sunshine on a Rainy Day' and ARIA Song of the Year 'My Island Home'.

The Indigenous Gala has been held annually since 2010 to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and raise money to support Bond's Indigenous Scholarship Program.

Bond University has invested further millions into the program since that time, providing full scholarships to 34 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to complete their undergraduate degree or diploma at Bond University, Australia's first and only private, non-profit university.

This year alone, another 12 Indigenous Scholarships were awarded to students from across Australia who demonstrated outstanding leadership potential and academic achievement.

Bond University Pro Vice Chancellor, Pathways and Partnerships, Catherine O’Sullivan, said surpassing the $1 million fundraising mark was the result of the community's generosity and dedication to improving Indigenous education outcomes.

"We are thrilled at the outstanding success of this year's Gala, which raised the largest amount in a single year since the event began," she said.

"The overwhelming generosity of our patrons and supporters allows us to not only create opportunities for Indigenous students to gain a university qualification, but also provide the necessary support through the Nyombil Centre to develop leadership skills and confidence in the next generation of young leaders.

"Bond has seen a 64 per cent increase in the Indigenous student cohort in the last three years and our retention and completion rates are well above the national average, however a significant gap remains Australia-wide between higher education enrolments and outcomes for Indigenous Australians compared with their non-Indigenous peers.

"We are strongly committed to continuing our efforts to address this disparity and seeing the gap close nationwide."

One of last year's recipients of the Indigenous Scholarship, Biama Nona, was MC on the night and spoke of the positive impact the scholarship had upon her life and studies.

"Receiving this scholarship has opened up a whole new world for me. I have just completed my first year of a Bachelor of Business and I have learnt so much and met so many wonderful people along the way," she said.

"I enjoy the lifestyle here so much. Bond has a fantastic learning and social atmosphere where I can thrive amongst like-minded people.

"Outside of my university commitments I have also been pursuing a career in the modelling industry, and have recently walked in fashion shows for Carla Zampatti, Fiji Fashion Week and Melbourne Cup race wear.

"My dream is to continue modelling and also pursue a career that fuses my business degree with my love of the fashion industry, hopefully one day working in public relations in the fashion and beauty industry."

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