When Brendan Powell started work as USC’s Indigenous Services Officer in 2001, he wanted to make a difference.
“All the stars aligned when I got the USC job. I was working at the University, in Indigenous education, in the perfect location. We bought the house we’re still living in.
"USC was five years old and had four Indigenous students so it was challenging, but I was given a blank slate and that made it rewarding because I could implement things I thought were needed.
“The youth of the University made it easier, because trying to change a culture is much harder than starting one. I wanted to make it an extremely positive experience for everyone. We created
an alternative entry program for Indigenous students and promoted it.
"We set up a tutorial room where the students could be amongst themselves and feel welcome and not under pressure. It was called Buranga, which in Gubbi Gubbi language means ‘to listen and learn’. USC’s small size meant there was already that personal, one-on-one communication between students and lecturers.
“Within a year, we had 40 Indigenous students as word spread," he said.
Read more about Brendan's story and his most recent work with Queensland Oztag in this month's downloadable chapter from the 20th anniversary celebration book, Visions.
USC's Buranga Centre and Indigenous student assistance still runs strong thanks to the efforts of trailblazers like Brendan.