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Footsteps lead to higher education

FOLLOWING in her adored grandmother’s footsteps with higher education has Kelly McBride of Nikenbah bursting with pride.

“I’ve got big shoes to fill,” Ms McBride beamed at yesterday’s NAIDOC Week celebration at University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Fraser Coast.

The 29-year-old Butchulla woman, who recently started the USQ Bachelor of Nursing program, is the grand-daughter of Aunty Irene McBride, last year’s USQ Indigenous Service Alumnus of the Year.

 Aunty Irene holds a Master of Education and coordinates the Vacation Care program at Hervey Bay’s Scrub Hill.

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First-year nursing student Kelly McBride celebrates NAIDOC Week at USQ Fraser Coast.

She is also a member of USQ Fraser Coast’s Buallum Jarl-Bah Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Committee (BATEC), an advisory group made up of Butchulla Elders, community members and USQ personnel who promote education to local Indigenous people.

“Aunty Irene is an excellent role model and does a lot for the community,” Ms McBride said.

Inspired by her grandmother’s achievements, the former Aboriginal medical receptionist is now taking the next step in her education journey.

“I have wanted to work in the health industry since leaving Year 12. I like working with my people so I thought university was the next level and started a degree.”

Ms McBride was among the dozens of University students, staff and community members who gathered at USQ Fraser Coast in Hervey Bay to celebrate NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observation Committee) Week.

USQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Jan Thomas said NAIDOC Week celebrated the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“This year’s theme We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate is an opportunity to pay respects to country, honour those who work tirelessly on preserving land, sea and culture, and to share the stories of significant places,” Professor Thomas said.

NAIDOC Week celebrations were also held at USQ campuses in Toowoomba, Springfield and Ipswich with traditional Indigenous performances and foods on offer.

At USQ Fraser Coast, foods included Damper, Lemon Myrtle Pancakes, Spicy Barramundi Pieces and Kangaroo Tartlets.

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Sampling the traditional Aboriginal food at USQ Fraser Coast’s NAIDOC Week celebration are (l-r) Butchulla Elder Uncle Ian Wheeler, visitor Kayla Monaghan, Campus Executive Manager Brett Langabeer, student Kelly McBride, staff member Deanna Eastall and student Rachael Bayley.

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NAIDOC recognition for USQ

UNIVERSITY of Southern Queensland’s contribution to the Fraser Coast Indigenous community and culture has been recognised in this year’s NAIDOC Week Awards announced yesterday (July 7) at the Flag Raising Ceremony in Hervey Bay.

USQ Fraser Coast won the Business/Organisation Award, which recognises a business or organisation whose values embrace cultural differences, promoting best practices that offer inclusion to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas congratulated USQ Fraser Coast on winning the prestigious award.

“Congratulations to all who contributed to making that award possible; it’s a great achievement,” Professor Thomas said.

USQ Fraser Coast Student Dimity Shillingsworth was also rewarded with the Female Young Leader Award, whichrecognises a young person who has excelled through leadership, culture, music, art, employment, education and/or training, environment and politics.

Campus Executive Manager Brett Langabeer said it was a real honour for USQ Fraser Coast to be recognised for its work with the local Indigenous community.

“Receiving that award on behalf of USQ yesterday was an honour and privilege,” Mr Langabeer said.

“The award reflects the relationship and engagement USQ has with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that it serves.

“We are particularly proud of our Indigenous students including Ms Shillingsworth who received her youth leadership award.

“USQ’s work in the Indigenous community speaks for itself, especially where the Vice Chancellor set up the USQ Elders and Valued Persons Advisory Board (EVPAB), and also the Buallum Jarl-Bah Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Committee (BATEC).

BATEC is an advisory group made up of Butchulla Elders, community members and USQ personnel that promotes education to local Indigenous people. It also encourages and supports participation and retention programs as well as aspiration pathways within the Indigenous community.

Mr Langabeer said a recent example of USQ working with community organisations and groups was the creation of a new position – Indigenous Community Engagement Officer – from July 1.

“That is testament to what USQ does in Hervey Bay and Maryborough,” he said.

“Our retention, participation and success rates for Indigenous students have increased significantly in recent years.

“We’re seeing more and more Indigenous students having great experiences and achieving success.

“Those students are role models in their own communities. They are seen to have the courage to start tertiary education. Through their own persistence they have achieved and now working in their chosen fields and benefiting from their education.

“I applaud the efforts of USQ’s engagement in Hervey Bay and Maryborough including Linda Wondunna-Foley’s work with the Indigenous community.”

USQ Fraser Coast has more than 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait students from Gympie to Bundaberg studying a range of disciplines from business and law to human services, education and nursing, and many more coming through USQ’s Pathways Programs.

Nine USQ Fraser Coast Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students graduated last year and several more in May this year.