18 March 2015
USC will use National Close the Gap Day on Thursday 19 March to raise awareness of the inequalities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to highlight some of the important work it is doing to address the disparity.
New figures show that USC’s commitment to encouraging Indigenous students to enrol and then offering appropriate guidance throughout their studies is paying off.
This month 89 new Indigenous students started undergraduate degrees at USC – representing a 45 percent increase on last year – bringing the total Indigenous student population at the University to 229.
Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Birgit Lohmann said USC was proud to have such a high number of Indigenous students.
“We also recognise that it’s not just about enrolments,” she said. “Our retention and success rates for Indigenous students have been consistently higher than the Queensland and national averages since 2006.
“We currently employ 34 Indigenous staff members in roles from administration to academia and have strategies in place to increase that number in the future.
“USC is committed to providing a dynamic academic and social environment for Indigenous students and staff, and to ensuring that Indigenous perspectives are embedded into our teaching and learning wherever possible.”
Pictured left to right: Indigenous Student Adviser Nicole Copley, Human Resources Assistant Christopher McGregor and Senior Lecturer in Nursing Lynne Stuart in front of All the fish in the sea by Mornington Island artist Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori.
Indigenous Student Adviser Nicole Copley said USC also does outreach work in schools and the community to identify who wants to attend university and what encouragement they might need.
“Some people think university is out of their reach. I let them know about university pathways and student life. I show them ways to complete their degrees and achieve their aspirations,” she said.
In addition to increasing Indigenous student and staff numbers, USC academics are undertaking important research in areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, education, relationships with land, history, politics and disadvantage.
National Close the Gap Day at the University will be marked with a traditional Welcome to Country by Aunty Beverly Hand and Lyndon Davis, both traditional custodians, Kabi Kabi/ Gubbi Gubbi descendants and Honorary Senior Fellows at USC. Torres Strait Island Elder George Wano will then lead a traditional dance and song performance.
Other activities will include a talk by Aunty Beverly about bush tucker, including plants in USC’s Buranga Centre garden, and a guided tour of some of USC’s significant Indigenous art collection.
— Jane Cameron