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Time on-campus key to boosting Indigenous participation

4 December 2018
University program proves successful after record-breaking enrolment numbers

This week, 168 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in years 10, 11 and 12 from across Australia will travel to the University of Sydney to participate in the residential on-campus Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program. 

Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program participants for 2018

Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program participants for 2018

“Now in its sixth year, we know that students who attend the program gain the knowledge and skills they need to make connections between what they study at school and their options for the future,” Head of Widening Participation and Outreach Mary Teague said.

“This year we have imagined four days of self-discovery, learning and adventure. The success of the program is evident, it’s a long-term commitment as we meet with students over the last three years of high school. 

Each time I’ve come to the program there’s always been something different to experience – something new.
Maykooth Farrawell, 2017 Wingara Mura Summer Program participant

There are currently 30 alumni from the program studying at the University of Sydney, many of whom are student leaders and mentors on the Wingara Mura Program.

“Almost 40 students from the Summer Program on ATAR pathways undertook the Winter Program early this year. A third of those students enrolled at the University of Sydney in 2018 and another 20 program alumni enrolled at other universities around Australia,” said Ms Teague.

“We look forward to hearing about more of the academic successes of our Wingara Mura students with the release of their HSC results.”

Maykooth Farrawell, who attended the 2017 Summer Program, is one of the 11 alumni working on the program and one of the first Indigenous people to enrol in a Bachelor of Design Computing at the University of Sydney. She is also a resident at St John’s College.

“I thought the program would just involve staying at the University, being told ‘you should come here to study.’ But they take you out into the real world and show you what you could be doing. Each time I’ve come to the program there’s always been something different to experience – something new,” Ms Farrawell said.

In 2018, students will experience university in the real world by taking part in activities such as:

  • A visit to Taronga Zoo to learn how to care for Australian birds and other animals from veterinarians and researchers;
  • A Q and A with Manly Sea Eagles player Joel Thompson, and other influential Indigenous role models such as Professor Jacky Troy, and Jasmin Sheppard (Bangarra Dance Company);
  • Seeing Australian female rap duo Coda Conduct perform, followed by a silent disco;
  • Attending the Reserve Bank of Australia to demonstrate the relationship between the RBA and Indigenous culture; and
  • A visit to neighbourhood centre, The Settlement to visualise how business can positively impact social issues and enterprises.

The Wingara Mura-Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program is an initiative of Widening Participation and Outreach at the University, supported by the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services)

Sally Sitou

Media and PR Adviser (International)

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