Local Indigenous achievers strive for bright future
HUNDREDS of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were encouraged to make the most of their educational opportunities during a scholarship ceremony in Springfield last week.
More than 200 students from 33 schools across the region, including Ipswich, Brisbane and Logan, were awarded scholarships from the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation (QATSIF) before a packed University of Southern Queensland (USQ) auditorium.
USQ Head of School (Teacher Education and Early Childhood) Professor Lindy-Anne Abawi officially welcomed students, their families, teachers, local Elders and community members to the University.
"USQ is proud to support this event and QATISF to enhance the great work they do to create a better future for thousands of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Professor Abawi said.
"These scholarships will give students the best shot to finish school and the choice of continuing to tertiary education to pursue a career that they love.”
The QATSIF scholarships are funded by interest from unclaimed stolen wages money and are used to assist students in their senior years of school.
The foundation's 10th round of scholarships is the largest in its history with a further 1416 students being offered scholarships in 2019.
Last week's ceremony celebrated the achievements of both the new recipients and last year's scholarship winners, including Ipswich teenager Imarnie Fatnowna who emceed the event.
"This scholarship has benefited me because not only has it given me the motivation to achieve my goals, but to make sure I honour the sacrifices made by our Elders and Ancestors, who helped pave the way for young people like me to have a brighter future,” the Ipswich Girls' Grammar School Year 12 student said.
The 16-year-old has big plans after she graduates from high school.
"I plan on coming to university and hope to complete a degree in science,” she said.
"Right now, though, I'm excited about finishing my last year of school and looking forward to the future.”
The ceremony featured a Welcome to Country, Elders' candle ceremony, Aboriginal Fire Blessing and traditional dance and song performances.
Visitors also heard from guest speakers, including USQ student ambassador and previous QATSIF scholarship recipient Aidan Train.
QATSIF board member Kellie McDonald said the foundation had awarded about 8700 scholarships to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students over the past decade.
"For some students, these scholarships help ease the financial pressure so they can concentrate on their studies, for others it is great recognition of their leadership and academic achievements,” Miss McDonald said.
"Today's scholarship recipients should be extremely proud of what they have accomplished, and I wish them all the best for their future.”