Indigenous culture the catalyst for USC programs

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Indigenous culture the catalyst for USC programs

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Head of USC Indigenous Services Dr Keane Wheeler

5 July 2017

USC has received a NAIDOC Award for its involvement in school-based initiatives in Fraser Coast schools to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture though language, song and dance.

USC’s Indigenous Services team was awarded the regional Business Organisation Award at this week’s annual Fraser Coast NAIDOC Awards, in recognition of its contribution to improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Head of USC Indigenous Services Dr Keane Wheeler said the University played an integral role in facilitating and resourcing initiatives in schools that used culture as the catalyst to engage students in education.

“In primary schools, we implemented a Re-engagement Program, in partnership with Uniting Care Community, which has led to students demonstrating a greater knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture,” Dr Wheeler said.

“This is an important consideration as cultural connectedness has been shown to promote increased involvement in learning and contribute to building aspirations.”

Dr Wheeler said culture was also emphasised through the Positive Girls Group and the Boys-2-Men programs in local secondary schools, which were targeted at youth at risk of disengaging with school.

USC also partners with Uniting Care Community to run a weekly Deadly-Cation homework group in Hervey Bay at USC Fraser Coast and a Murri-Borough homework group in Maryborough.

These groups offer a safe place with food and refreshments for students to do their homework.

Transport is provided from schools to the homework centres and to the students’ homes, and local school teachers attend to the assist students in their content knowledge.

Dr Wheeler said the programs had led to increased interest in attending university, and a strong growth in enrolments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at USC Fraser Coast.

“To receive a NAIDOC Award is a great acknowledgement that the approaches we are taking in the Fraser Cost region are making a difference.

“Since the introduction of USC Fraser Coast last year, Indigenous Services has worked to partner with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and establish a genuine and meaningful presence in the Fraser Coast region.”

— Clare McKay

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