Ag study no brainer for proud Ghungalu woman

[by Isis Symes]

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Image: supplied


Wednesday, 14 September

Rockhampton local and proud Ghungalu woman Zhanae Dodd is passionate about agriculture.
 
“I have always had a love for agriculture, specifically land care and management and regenerative agriculture along with cattle, which I feel like is a given being raised in the Beef Capital and agribusiness,” Zhanae explained.

“Studying this degree (Bachelor of Agriculture) has been on my mind since leaving school in 2014 and finally, at 24, I decided to take the leap and I’m so glad I did. Being Indigenous, I have such an innate need and ability to look after and care for the land, like my ancestors did and I can’t wait to continue that on.”
 
Zhanae’s dream to complete university and go on to work in the cattle sector was given a boost when she was recently awarded a CQUniCares BHP Indigenous Scholarship, valued at $20 000 over two years to go towards her CQUniversity studies.
 
“Quite honestly this made the difference between me staying in uni and dropping out,” she said.
 
In addition to studying full time, Zhanae also works full time, runs a business and volunteers in the community - she said that before receiving the scholarship she couldn’t afford to take unpaid leave and stay on top of her bills.
 
“I must work full time to be able to live and keep my business running along with my advocacy work.
 
“The cost of living is so high now and this scholarship meant I could stay in school and chase my goals.”
 
In addition to studying full time the proud Ghungalu, Biri, Widi and Kaanju woman is a Youth Justice Case Manager and Court Support Worker at Darumbal Community Youth Service Inc., she’s a business owner and facilitator at Groove Co., a board member for Gumbi Gumbi, a community representative for the Local Thriving Communities and is an ambassador for Pacific-Australia Youth Association – not to mention her volunteer work with cultural dancing, facilitating and engaging in youth voice and advocacy work.
 
“I am my ancestors, my culture, my country and my dreaming,” Zhanae said.
 
“My great grandmother, Nanna Elsie worked on properties and was a great horsewoman, so I’m honoured to follow in her steps. I am also lucky enough to be learning language and helping revive our dances and song lines throughout dance group, Ghungalu Guyu Yama Mia.”
 
Zhanae is currently completing her first year of the degree and said she was loving the course.
 
“I am so passionate about what I am learning. A highlight for me is definitely the residential schools where I can put what I’ve learnt into action,” she said.
 
When complete, Zhanae said she hoped to contribute to the agricultural sector by looking at how humans could further embrace regenerative agricultural practices.
 
“I am all about working smarter not harder, in a way where we can really look after our land,” she explained.
“I know I want to have a job in the cattle sector looking at innovation around dual-purpose cropping, low stress handling and being generally more efficient and ethical in how we do business to ensure this industry remains viable for thousands of years to come.
“I honestly would love to own my own property that is at the forefront of innovation and research to help the industry progress and move forward whilst educating others. If I can do any (or hopefully all) of that, then I’ll be a very happy lady.”
 
Zhanae encouraged fellow students to apply for a CQU Scholarship.
 
“I was so close to dropping out, but this was my saving grace, and it could be yours too. Thank you, BHP and CQU.”

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