Mandandanji family shares many degrees of UQ connection

22 September 2021

Five proud Mandandanji women across two generations have plenty to catch up on when they compare their progress as alumni of The University of Queensland.

Left to right are Keitha Dunstan, Anna Holland, Jade Ball, Amy Thomson and Lorelle Holland.

Professor Keitha Dunstan is now Provost at Bond University while sister Lorelle Holland is an Associate Lecturer in Nursing and affiliate of UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

Lorelle’s niece Jade Ball is in her second year of UQ’s Doctor of Medicine program, daughter Anna is a hardware engineer for a leading defence and security company, and daughter Amy is a casual academic and PhD candidate at UQ.

“We are all proud of our family, our links to the Mandandanji people of south-west Queensland, and our UQ connections,” says Lorelle, who managed to arrange a family get-together in a gap between COVID-19 lockdowns.

As Provost, Keitha (UQ Bachelor of Commerce 1983, PhD 1998) holds the most senior academic position at Bond University, where she leads the research, and learning and teaching strategies and oversees the academic operations. She’s been an academic at Bond since 2009.

Her current role also encompasses leadership of the Equity, Diversity and Indigenous portfolio, the Bond University College preparation and pathway programs, the Transformation CoLab and the Microcredentials Unit. She also finds time to be a Gold Coast Business Events Ambassador for Gold Coast Tourism.

Earlier in her career, Keitha was a Commissioner of the New Zealand Securities Commission (2003-2011). She also held several senior positions at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand (2000 – 2009), including the Head of the School of Accounting and Commercial Law and the founding Director of the Centre for Accounting, Governance and Taxation Research.

Lorelle (UQ Masters in Public Health, in the field of Indigenous Health, 2020) spent three decades as a Registered Nurse in varied clinical, management, education, clinical facilitation and research roles.

Her clinical nursing career highlight was working with Aboriginal peoples as a Remote Area Nurse in the Northern Territory.

Lorelle’s academic career highlight thus far was receiving the UQ 'Postgraduate Coursework Academic Excellence Award' in 2020.

As a relatively new Nursing academic at UQ, she hopes to inspire the next generation of nurse clinicians and researchers to ensure the delivery of competent, compassionate, and culturally-respectful nursing practice.

Lorelle is enrolled in PhD studies in the Medicine Faculty and hopes to explore critical race theory and complex health needs concerning the disproportionate rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in detention, who are removed from their families during critical periods of child development.

She hopes to centre youth and their communities to co-design culturally appropriate holistic assessment and diversionary pathways to counter youth detention practices.

Anna (UQ dual Degree in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering with Honours, 2018) completed a two-year graduate program with BAE Systems Australia in Adelaide and now works there as a hardware engineer.

“My BAE Systems program rotations included a maintenance contract for air traffic control and radio systems, and customer assurance for an advanced air defence simulator training system for the Army,” she says.

“I’m really enjoying my work on high-frequency technology with BAE Systems and hope in coming years to have opportunities to become a technical lead or team manager. It’s a highly professional, security-conscious and trusted role.”

Amy's UQ undergraduate degree was a dual Bachelor of Music (with honours - majoring in Performance on French horn) and Bachelor of Arts (majoring in English literature and writing).

During her studies at UQ, Amy was a Student Ambassador and Tutor for UQ's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit and enjoyed working with fellow Indigenous students and mentoring at InspireU camps.

After graduating in 2015, she started her Graduate Diploma of Secondary Education and graduated as an English and Music secondary teacher in 2016.

Amy moved to Sydney in 2017 for a teaching role at Alnoori Muslim School. Since returning to Brisbane this year, she has worked as a casual academic for UQ’s School of Education while preparing to start her PhD on Conceptualising Co-design with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young Peoples in the Context of Australian English Education.

Jade completed her UQ Bachelor of Science (majoring in Biomedical Science) in 2019 and is now in her second year of the UQ Doctor of Medicine program, due to graduate in 2023.

“I’m proud of my role as Indigenous Phase One Representative within the University of Queensland Medical Society (UQMS),” she said.

“I’ve been involved in the planning of events as well as support and advocacy for the Indigenous medical cohort this year, alongside the newly appointed UQMS Indigenous Board.”

Jade is looking forward to completing her clinical phase of Medicine at Toowoomba Rural Clinical School next year.