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First Nations staff and students recognised for contributions

[by Nicole Barlow]


Student Achievement Award winner Ellie Thomson with Charles Sturt First Nations Student Adviser in the First Nations Student Connect team Julie Bennett. Image: supplied

The successes of Charles Sturt University’s First Nations students and staff members were celebrated last night at the University’s 2022 First Nations Success Awards. 

The awards recognise the valuable and impactful contributions to community made by the University’s First Nations students, staff, graduates, community leaders and researchers. 

The winners were announced at a ceremony in Orange recently. 

Awards and their recipients were as follows: 

  • First Nations Impact Award, which recognises the positive impacts made by an individual or group of staff to First Nations education and/or engagement at Charles Sturt University. Winner: Associate Professor Jay Phillips 

  • First Nations Student Achievement Award, which recognises significant achievement by a First Nations student, such as improvement in results, overcoming barriers with challenges, contribution to community or other students. Winners: Ellie Thomson, Mia Harding and Zac Gittens  

  • First Nations Student Academic Award, which recognises academic achievement by a student, based on a measurable demonstration of academic outcomes. Winners: Cory Paulson, Teresa Cochrane and Dr Annette Gainsford  

  • First Nations Staff Achievement Award, which recognises the significant achievement made by a First nations staff member, such as improvement in results in functional area, addressing challenges within the University environment, contribution to community or other staff. Winner: First Nations Student Adviser Linda Baulch  

  • First Nations Staff Recognition of Service. Winner: Kymberley Allen 

  • First Nations Recognition of Contribution, which acknowledges the positive impacts made by a First Nations Elder, individual or group from community to First Nations education and/or engagement at Charles Sturt. Winners: Aunty Gloria Rogers and Mr Jamie Newman  


Associate Professor Phillips was a worthy recipient of the Impact Award, having led significant growth in the integration of Indigenous perspectives and knowledge in the University’s curriculums, research and policies. 

This is demonstrated by her work in co-designing an Indigenous studies foundation subject now being taught in over 96 per cent of all Charles Sturt undergraduate courses. 

Associate Professor Phillips also provides ongoing mentorship for the University’s academic leaders in quality assurance of courses and subjects with Indigenous content. 

Acting Executive Director of Student Success Ms Heather McGregor said the awards celebrate all forms of First Nations success stories. 

“It’s important that we make time to reflect on success and respectfully acknowledge the hard work, effort and achievement made by First Nations students, staff and communities,” Ms McGregor said. 

“We are proud to have three sponsors of these awards, Link Up NSW, Yilabara Solutions, and the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AHMRC NSW), who have joined us to show their support and acknowledgement of success. 

“We all work with the same First Nations communities and we are honoured to have a collaborative approach with community led organisations.” 

Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor Professor Renée Leon said the awards demonstrated that Charles Sturt’s First Nations staff and students were embodying the University’s ethos, the Wiradjuri phrase ‘yindyamarra winhanganha’, which means ‘the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in’.  

“We are proud to be a university of the land, our people and our regions,” Professor Leon said.  

“Through these awards we celebrate the positive, impactful achievements of the First Nations peoples in our university community. I congratulate the winners and those nominated.” 

Professor Leon said Charles Sturt’s record for advancing education options for First Nations people was one of its most important functions as Australia's leading regional university. In 2021, more than 4.3 per cent of Charles Sturt’s domestic students were First Nations people - more than double the average among Australian universities. 

At the award ceremony, Charles Sturt launched its Reconciliation Action Plan, an outline of the University’s actions aimed at building partnerships with First Nations stakeholders in support of reconciliation between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians.


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