Indigenous sashing ceremony tipped to grow into one of UQ’s great traditions

11 December 2020

The 34 graduands who attended this week’s UQ Indigenous sashing evening ceremony were acknowledged for doing the hard yards and overcoming a difficult year of stress, heartaches and headaches on their way to success.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry AO remarked that the history of the UQ’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Sashing Ceremony was still young but tipped it would grow into one of the University’s great traditions.

“Looking at the growing enrolments and successful completion rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at UQ, there’s every reason to be confident about the future,” Professor Terry said.

“The number of enrolled Indigenous students at UQ has almost doubled over the past decade from 244 students in 2010 to 468 students this year, and the number of completing students has almost tripled during this period. We have also grown our number of Indigenous staff members."

Professor Terry also acknowledged the important role that UQ’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) has played in driving real change at UQ.

“We will continue to build on this momentum with new initiatives such as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research and Innovation Strategy. I’m really hopeful this strategy will create step change in the way we incorporate Indigenous knowledge and insight to our research programs and position UQ as a national leader in Indigenous research … it will also be a platform for Indigenous students and early career researchers.”

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), Professor Bronwyn Fredericks said the sashing event was a celebration of the resilience and determination of students.

“I acknowledge my colleagues from the Indigenous Engagement Division of the University … these events are recognition of our collective efforts and the result, in some circumstances, of years of dedication.

Dual Bachelor of Economics and Commerce graduate Zane Higgins.

“Some of our staff have known students since they were in high school and first came to an InspireU Camp and made that connection with the staff … relationships developed at that time will continue long after you graduate.

“Some of you will have got to know staff through the orientations, student support, or just coming to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit and chatting around the kitchen."

Many stellar student achievements were mentioned in the ceremony, including graduates who have secured employment in the aircraft industry, law, allied health, medicine, education, sport promotion, youth services, the public service, veterinary services and tourism.

Others are progressing into postgraduate education or moving into research and/or academic roles.

Notable were the number of students who had received scholarship support throughout their studies. Professor Fredericks acknowledged the important role that UQ’s community, industry and philanthropic partners had played in supporting UQ’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

"Without many of these people and organisations, what has been achieved would have been difficult … 2020 has been really successful in terms of these partnerships and I thank those who have contributed to our student hardship fund, which made a real difference to students who have been doing it tough this year."

Also notable on the night was the graduation of six Medical students, of whom three attended: Jill Guljas, Jordana Stanford and James Tronc.

Awards presented during the sashing evening included:

  • UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Undergraduate Academic Excellence Award – John Lane;
  • UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Coursework Academic Excellence Award - Lorelle Holland;
  • UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Higher Degree Excellence Award - Dr Naomi Green;
  • UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 'Goorie Berrimpa Student Engagement Award' - Kayla Curry.