Shalom Gamarada Scholarship Program - Walking Together
Uni: It's in your Grasp
The program's name comes from the term Gamarada ngiyani yana in the Eora language (the coastal Aboriginal people of Sydney) and is translated as "We walk together as friends."
The premise behind the scholarship is to make a contribution to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Many Indigenous students find it difficult to succeed at university because they:
The Shalom Gamarada Scholarship Program helps to alleviate these problems by providing financial support, eliminating travelling time and creating an environment conducive to learning through tutoring and counselling support.
25 Indigenous students are living at Shalom College on scholarships in 2014 – 3 others not on scholarship and 1 at UWS.
The Governor of NSW, Prof Marie Bashir AV CVO, Patron of the program, described it as “one of the most visionary and inspirational initiatives in support of young Australians in which I have had the privilege to be involved” and wrote, “We can declare with confidence – and gratitude – that the program is not only an investment in each of the young Australian beneficiaries, but a most valuable investment in our nation Australia.”
The program began in 2005 with 1 Aboriginal student of Medicine at the University of NSW on a scholarship to reside and be supported by Shalom College, a residential college on campus.
It has grown exponentially. To date, a total of 64 students have been assisted and, this year, there are 26 Indigenous Shalom Gamarada scholarship students studying for a variety of degrees – mainly Medicine and Law - at UNSW.
So far, there have been 6 graduates
Dr Beth Kervin – 2009 - Medicine
Jenna Owen – 2010 - Optometry
Dr Josef McDonald – 2011 – Medicine
Dr Andrew Julian – 2013 - Medicine
Aaron Collins – 2013 - Social Work
Linda Kennedy – 2013 – Architecture
In recent years the students in the program have achieved a 90% pass rate. This is a remarkable success - higher than that for non-Indigenous Australian students studying difficult, ‘long-haul’ courses like Medicine and Law.
25 Indigenous scholarship holders completed the 2013 end of year examinations. 23 of them passed the year – many with credits and distinctions – thus making the pass rate 92%. This is a remarkable achievement, given the fact that most of the students come from seriously disadvantaged backgrounds.
Professor Jackson Pulver AM, Chair Indigenous Health at UNSW said, “We have not had one single student drop out because of having to work to support themselves or because of the lack of accommodation since this program began. Today, UNSW has one of the best retention rates of Aboriginal students in the country. Shalom Gamarada has allowed us to provide appropriate on-campus accommodation and meals to students in a city which is arguably the most expensive in the country.”
The program won the prestigious LIME (Medical Deans of Australian and New Zealand Universities) award as a model of best practice in the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal medical students.
Shalom College at UNSW is the first Higher Education organisation to partner with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation in 2010 – which means that every donated scholarship results in two – as each is ‘matched’ by the AIEF.
David Gonski AC (Chancellor of the University of NSW; Chairman of Investec Bank, Coca-Cola Amatil, the Guardians of the Future Fund, the Sydney Theatre Company, etc.; Patron of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation) is a great supporter of the program – both through his role as Chancellor and in a personal capacity as his family foundation provides two Shalom Gamarada scholarships.