The Bond University Indigenous Gala has this year raised a record sum of almost $400,000 towards creating educational opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students - taking total funds raised to more than $2.1 million since the event began nine years ago.
More than 550 South East Queensland business identities, media, Elders and the wider community turned out to support the University’s annual gala event, which was held on Friday (November 16) at Bond’s Gold Coast campus.
Bond announced on the night it would next year commit to creating a further 15 scholarship opportunities for Indigenous students across a number of areas of study, including business, law, psychology, health sciences and communications.
As a result of funds raised at the Gala events and through the University’s own contribution, Bond has created educational opportunities for 91 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students since 2012.
Bond University Vice Chancellor and President Professor Tim Brailsford said he was proud of the University’s rate of retention for Indigenous students which stands at 83 per cent, well ahead of the national average.
“For many of the Indigenous students studying at Bond University, it is the first time a member of their family has ever pursued a tertiary education,” said Professor Brailsford.
“It cannot be overstated how important a higher education is to these students, their families and the wider Australian community.
“Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of our patron, Dr Patrick Corrigan, and supporters, Bond has been able to continue creating these opportunities for Indigenous students.
“Education is truly the key to unlocking opportunities for our young Indigenous people, and Bond University is extremely proud to play its small but important role in developing the skills, knowledge and confidence of the next generation of leaders.”
An annual celebration of Indigenous culture, the Gala kicked off with a Welcome to Country musical performance by The Spirit of Churaki, followed by a live auction, which included artworks by some of the country’s leading Indigenous artists.
A special guest panel of 'change makers' also offered fascinating personal insights and perspectives, discussing the importance of educating young Indigenous Australians to unlock opportunities and create social change.
The engaging panel was comprised of Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher, Torres Strait Island Regional Council Cr Fraser Nai, Bond University Indigenous Cultural support officer and celebrated artist Narelle Urquhart, Bond University Indigenous Scholarship Graduate and practising lawyer Emily MacDonald and Walking with Wisdom managing director Jeremy Donovan.
Fellow change maker and current Bond University student Rekisha Satour co-emceed the evening and shared her story of moving from her community in Darwin to Western Australia to begin her secondary education, and then on to the Gold Coast to study a Bachelor of Psychological Science as a Bond University Indigenous scholar.
Up-and-coming musical powerhouse, Michael Tuahine, closed out the evening with his band, getting the crowd dancing to back-to-back classic Australian covers.