[by Rhianwen Whitney]
Head of School (Law and Justice) Professor Reid Mortensen, Jarowair elder Vanessa Fisher, CISER Head Professor Tracey Bunda, and Toowoomba Regional Council Cr Bill Cahill. Image: USQ
Cultural Connections at USQ
“Know who you are and where you come from. Keep it in your heart.”
The words of Jarowair elder Vanessa Fisher resonated through the crowd as strong as the wind swept through and unfurled all three Australian flags at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) last week.
Her talk was part of a welcome to USQ’s newest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students for the University’s first residential-based orientation program ‘Cultural Connections’.
Centre for Indigenous Studies, Education and Research (CISER) Head Professor Tracey Bunda said it was an opportunity to welcome the newcomers to the CISER family.
“We are dedicated to encouraging and assisting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through the learning journey,” Professor Bunda said.
“Every single member of our team is here to help – from assistance in applying through to graduation.
“Need advice on tutoring assistance, enrolling in courses and submitting assignments? You’ll always find a friend here.”
Cultural Connections aimed to build student networks and knowledge about support and services provided at USQ, building a strong foundation to assist throughout the study journey.
The program coincided with the Semester 1 Indigenous Higher Education Pathway Program (IHEPP) Residential, bringing together around 30 students at USQ’s Residential Colleges for the two events.
The official welcome (February 25) was followed by campus tours, a Yarning Circle with Dr Kathryn Gilbey, and workshops on USQ Study Desk, scholarships, library resources and more throughout the week.
In addition to being introduced to USQ, the students gained an insight into local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage through a cultural excursion to key locations such as Duggan Park and Picnic Point to hear about the Battle of One-Tree Hill and Aboriginal warrior Multuggerah.
Engineering student Kerry Gall travelled from Townsville to attend the event ahead of starting his online study.
Mr Gall’s journey to tertiary education hasn’t been easy – his home was significantly impacted by recent flooding, and close family members had to cope with serious health concerns.
“I really can’t thank CISER enough for the warm welcome,” he said.
“I wanted to come here for the experience, but they’ve already provided me with important help – setting me up with a tutor and boosting my motivation and confidence ahead of study.”
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