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Indigenous students stepping up and speaking out at the National Native Title conference

by Catherine Maughan

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ustralia’s largest Indigenous policy gathering, the annual National Native Title Conference, was held in Alice Springs last week. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education spoke at one of the pre-conference workshops which were for Indigenous delegates only. The four students spoke to conference delegates with pride and confidence about their learning experiences within the Preparation for Tertiary Success (PTS) course. Vyyleah Waia-Gibia, a young Torres Strait Islander woman from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait, explained how students come from all over Australia for face to face workshops which are an essential part of building learning relationships. “I love coming to Alice Springs for PTS workshops”, she said. “We’ve made lifelong friends here and we share our Indigenous cultures with each other. I like to talk about my Islander culture and I’ve learnt a lot about all the Aboriginal cultures from across Australia.” Through the PTS

From left: PTS Presenters at the National Native Title Conference Andrew Clements, Amelia Kuonth-Monks, Vyyleah Waia-Gibia (standing) and Kathryn Cochrane, Alice Springs, Northern Territory. Image supplied

course students strengthen their own learning identity and develop strategies so they can achieve success in their university studies. Andrew Clements has worked hard all his life; most recently working in the mining industry in the Pilbara region of northwest Western Australia. Andrew started studying the PTS course full time in March this year and he told delegates: “At the start of the semester I was feeling overwhelmed with all the work. I was working well when I was at workshops but found it harder when I went home. It has taken me most of

my first semester to make the changes at home that I needed to, but I have and I feel I’m on track now.” The PTS course encourages students to bring together both Indigenous and western knowledges and ways of working. Amelia Kunoth-Monks is a young Alyawarr/Anmatyerr woman from Utopia in Central Australia. Amelia said “Batchelor has been a great place for me. I feel like my Indigenous knowledge is valued while at the same time I’m learning how to excel in western academic ways so I can go to university and make a difference for my people.”

The purpose of the PTS course is to prepare Indigenous people for success in university studies. Kathryn Cochrane is raising two young boys by herself. A PTS graduate, Kathyrn is completing her second semester of a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning. “PTS was a good foundation for my teaching studies I’m doing now. At the start I was a bit stuck in my ways but PTS pushed me out of my comfort zone and I know I can do things that I couldn’t do. I did well in PTS so that gave me confidence that I can do well at uni too” Kathryn said. Page 1


Students speak at native title conference