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Murgon sportswoman to attend Bond University on Indigenous scholarship

Abelee Stanley of Murgon will study at Bond University on a scholarship. PICTURE: Cavan Flynn

A talented rugby league player who aspires to represent Australia and mentor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children has secured an Indigenous scholarship at Bond University.

Generous support from the Envato Foundation will allow Abelee Stanley, 18, to study a Diploma of Arts before progressing to a Bachelor of Social Science.

Ms Stanley, of Murgon, west of Gympie in Queensland, said the sacrifices of her mother Judy were driving her to succeed.

“My mum is a single mother raising five children by herself,” Ms Stanley said.

“When I was younger I never realised how much she sacrificed for me, and now that I do I am forever grateful. She is amazing.”

Ms Stanley’s scholarship is part of a broader contribution from the Envato Foundation which will benefit Indigenous students from remote or rural communities.

The partnership will provide two 50 per cent scholarships for an undergraduate degree as well as two accommodation bursaries for students during their time at Bond University.

The Foundation will also make a two-year contribution to the Indigenous Support Fund which is available to all Indigenous students at the University.

Ms Stanley has Aboriginal (Birri Gubba and Barunggam) and Torres Strait Islander (Mabuiag Island) heritage and is the first in her family to embark on higher education.

She is an alumna of The Glennie School and has worked for Yalari, a not-for-profit organisation which provides scholarships for Indigenous students at some of Australia’s top high schools.

“Mum was overwhelmed and really proud of me when she heard I got the scholarship to Bond,” Ms Stanley said.

“My pop John was never given the opportunity to go to university or do any sort of education and every chance he had he would push me to go for it, wanting me to do the best and do the things he couldn’t do.

“I am doing this for myself but I’m also doing it for them. It is very motivating.”

Ms Stanley is a talented sportswoman who was part of the Australian Sevens rugby development squad in 2018 and the first Queensland under-18 women’s rugby league team.

Her ultimate sporting goal is to represent Australia but she is also conscious of the impact her education can make in the First Nations community.

“My mum was involved in social work in an Indigenous community in foster care,” she said.

“My older sister has also done social work and hearing from them has made me really interested.

“I would find working in that area a way of giving back. Being part of a small town and a small community, everyone works together to raise who you are.”

Chair of the Envato Foundation Board, Briany Kalms, said the scholarships were an important step in helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth access world-class tertiary education opportunities.

“We're particularly excited about this partnership because it really closes the loop between secondary and tertiary education and it's giving us the opportunity to continue to support a Yalari student on the next stage of their education.”

Vice President Engagement at Bond University, Catherine Marks, said 29 Indigenous students completed their program in 2020 alone and support from partners such as the Envato Foundation was critical to building on that record.

“The Foundation can be confident their scholars will be given every opportunity to succeed with backing from the University’s dedicated Nyombil Indigenous Support Centre.”

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