Gilchrist Foundation Scholarship Awardees

TYA LOVETT2021 Archaeology Undergraduate Scholarship at The University of New England

Tya, Allira, Willem and Katie

Statement accompanying Tya Lovett’s application for the 2021 Archaeology Scholarship at UNE in 2021:

I was employed by Aboriginal Victoria for 10 years as a Heritage Project Officer/Authorised Officer administrating the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. During this time my ultimate goal was to always complete a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology, however with a heavy consistent workload and growing young family this goal was not achievable. Therefore, to make my goal a reality I resigned from Aboriginal Victoria in 2018.

Career aspirations as an archaeologist would allow me to operate as a Heritage Advisor in Victoria, and or seek other opportunities to further enhance the knowledge and understanding of the lifeways of Aboriginal people in all states and territories of Australia. In addition, I have a strong passion for education and training, which my previous employment experience and tertiary education would allow me to educate local and international audiences of all ages the importance and significance

Furthermore, my tertiary degree will also be invested back into my ancestral lands, community and family members. This will ensure that the Gunditjmara people, our cultural knowledge, customs, practices and connection to country remains unbroken for current and future generations. In fact, I may be the first archaeologist of Gunditjmara descent which would be a great honour and privilege, although will need to confirm during the next Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation full group meeting in early 2021.

My extra-curricular involvement has been limited. This has been mainly due to the geographic living locations since commencing tertiary studies and also caring for my two young children aged seven and four while mother/spouse’s employment as a remote area nurse (RAN) in remote Aboriginal communities, such as Gapuwiyak and Nauiyu, Northern Territory (NT) and Looma, Western Australia (WA).

The impact of not receiving scholarship support would continue to affect me and my family financially, such as ongoing course fees, textbooks and other home office expenses as an online student. For example, most course unit textbooks, particularly archaeology textbooks average 100 dollars. Furthermore, I recently had to purchase a laptop as a result of old laptop being excessively used since 2018 for tertiary studies. Therefore, any university costs either foreseen or unforeseen contributes to my overall study performance and unit grade results. Thus, imperative that financial matters are balanced between family and tertiary studies, as spouse provides primary source of income.

My cultural obligations as a Gunditjmara man from southwest Victoria has been temporally interrupted, thus unable to participate in cultural activities and events on my ancestral country. However, since commencing tertiary studies I have explored parts of Australia while travelling between spouse’s work locations, lived in remote Aboriginal communities, exchanged cultural knowledge, participated in numerous cultural activities and ceremonial events. These opportunities have strengthened my cultural knowledge and understanding, thus an invaluable asset while studying archaeology and may provide future opportunities to work with many Traditional Owners from Arnhem Land, and the Daly and Kimberley regions.

Additional Information

I grew up with five siblings (four sisters and one brother) in Halls Gap, Victoria. Unfortunately, at the age of four, just after moving to Halls Gap from Warrnambool, dad died in 1989 from a heart attack after attending a nation-wide cultural gathering in Darwin, NT. Since than my mother has successively raised all children as a single parent to present day, four of which have completed secondary education and only one completing a tertiary degree. Furthermore, I will be the second child in the family to complete tertiary education degree.

Lastly, sufficient scholarship assistance will ensure greater success in the completion of my Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology degree currently being undertaken at the University of New England. Thus, also supporting the first archaeologist of Gunditjmara descent.

And now Tya has provided this short update:

UNE Studies

I have five units remaining before completing my Bachelor of Arts (extended major in Archaeology) at University of New England (UNE).  I have not enrolled in trimester 3 units this year (2021), rather applying for ‘Advance Standing’ for three of the five units.

La Trobe University (employment – 1 October 2021)

Some exciting news, I commenced ongoing employment as Senior Educator with La Trobe University (LTU) Bundoora Campus (Vic) delivering the Certificate IV in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management (ACHM) course.

This employment opportunity with LTU allows me to work alongside Victorian Traditional Owners within a Vocational Education and Training (VET) environment, including sharing my personal/work experiences and tertiary study knowledge to a cohort of 18-20 students each year.

In addition, working within the Department of Archaeology and History at LTU will also allow me to establish working relationships with staff members who are experts in their field of study, for example archaeology and anthropology which will assist my future Aboriginal academic research projects.     

Additional Activities (community/volunteer/study)

I have enrolled to upgrade my ‘Trainer and Assessor’ qualification through Inspire Education, which is a requirement for my new role at LTU as I will be assessing student assessments in 2022.

Volunteer work has allowed me to assist private property owners, Parks Victoria and Traditional Owners register an Aboriginal rock art site and rock wells at Black Range Scenic Reserve, Victoria. In addition, I have conducted one ‘welcome to country and smoking ceremony’ in Halls Gap for the local primary school and community garden members.

Since returning home, back to Gariwerd (Halls Gap / Grampians National Park), any spare time is spent reconnecting with country, exploring new and previously visited places with family.

Closing comments

University studies remains a priority and anticipate graduation in late 2022. I wish to thank my donor and the Gilchrist Foundation for your ongoing support assisting me during my tertiary studies at UNE. In addition, my LTU employment allows me to work from home.

SIENNA LORETO2022 Diploma of Nursing Scholarship at Wollongbar TAFE

Our inaugural TAFE scholarship awardee – Sienna Loreto.

Sienna Loreto is our very first TAFE scholarship awardee. Sienna is studying a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing at TAFE and wants to further her studies in the paramedical area.


Sienna wrote, in her application for the scholarship: “All my life I have been drawn to medicine: I love the idea of being able to help people. My aspirations for the future are to pursue a career in paramedicine or trauma. After I’ve completed my Diploma in Nursing, I would love to get a post grad somewhere more central. I’d love to learn things from nurses and other medical officers who are well established in their careers and assist young AIN’s who are up and coming or ones who are looking to pursue a career where they are. After my post grad I would love to complete my Registered Nursing degree and then study paramedicine, to work in trauma and be first on scene is my DREAM! I would also like to do my master’s degree, I’m not sure the field yet but it is something I have always wanted to do.”

Sienna has already achieved significant results despite some difficult life-experiences and is a deserving awardee of our scholarship.

UPDATE: Sienna has now completed her Diploma and is contemplating where she will enrol in a Bachelor of Nursing degree.

CORINA MURRAY – 2022 Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours Year) at Southern Cross University

Corina with daughter Bailey.

In her application for our scholarship, Corina wrote the following sad story:

“I am hoping to obtain my honours as I have completed my Bachelor of Psychological Science at SCU last year.

“I hope to obtain my honours degree so that I may continue with a research pathway at SCU by way of PhD. I want to make a significant contribution to the area of coercive control and domestic violence by constructing a factor analysis and standardised scale to enable young girls to identify susceptibility to potential risk factors for coercive control and education programs to assist in workshops and training in recognising red flags of abusive relationships. I am hoping to be able to contribute to research to allow laws to be changed so that the most disabling part of DV (coercive control/psychological/emotional abuse) can be detected early and thus, act as a buffer to prepare young women for these red flags and change laws to make it illegal.

“I have obtained a bachelor of psychological science despite living through the worst domestic violence over 5 years where I was constantly forbidden to study and had to secretly study at night and put in severe sleep depression and diagnosed with chronic stress. I have taken exams while living in a refuge with my 2 children and while pregnant with a third child. I have moved over 26 times during my degree trying to escape all while studying, gave birth to a new born and have cared for 3 children, 2 of which are under 3 and are on the NDIS for epilepsy, global development delay and autism, and a 10 year old daughter who requires home schooling. I have taken final exams during covid lockdown while breastfeeding a newborn and given live presentations while parked on the side of the road with my kids. I graduated with a high GPA despite this

“I obtaining my bachelor degree despite my ex partners attempts to take it from me. He deleted assessments and 3000 word essays as punishment from my computer. I have gone through multiple criminal court proceedings and continue to have him harass me through the legal system. Managing to complete my degree with a high GPA and not letting him win, all while battling severe trauma and attending a minimum of 14 appointments a week for my young disabled children and keeping them safe and feeling loved, safe and secure has given me my powers back to succeed and refuse to give up.

“My Bachelor degree was my driving force to succeed to create a better life for myself and kids.”

How could we not award a scholarship to Corina?

SHELLEY MONROE – 2022 Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge at Southern Cross University.

In her application for our scholarship, Shelley wrote-

“I identify as a proud Palawa Aboriginal woman from Tasmania. I know live on the Gold Coast and have done for many years. I am accepted in my community as an Aboriginal woman. I receive support services from Kalwin Health Service and community support. I have lived within the community of Brisbane as well. I connect with Musgrave park community support and am well known in the arts community as an emerging artist.

“The Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge is a pathway to working in Aboriginal communities. Story telling is a powerful medium by which you can empower those who dont have a voice. I have chosen this degree, to allow me to build on knowledge and skills I have obtain throughout my life. I have deep social empathy for desire to empower others, through cultural knowledge that I will receive in this degree. It will give me the skills and knowledge I need to work in an industry that is growing and understanding the cultural needs of it Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander people.

“I have researched my career choices and on completion of the degree I would like to work in the social welfare area. Community health is another and the most preferred by me is working in remote communities to deliver a holistic approach to many social issues that affect community members.

“Throughout the years at Southern Cross Uni, I have been asked to be a mentor another student. I didn’t feel confident until now but now have the confidence and skills to help fellow students. I regularly attend a woman’s support group for Aboriginal women which is something I have participated in over the past 5 years.

“Completing the bachelor degree will give me the tools and knowledge to be cultural appropriate and respectful with in my chosen field of work. This is significant to me as an Aboriginal woman and a future community worker. I found this career path to be something that was innate in me as a human being.

“Growing up as a disadvantaged child and experiencing the struggles of poverty, poor health care, educational disadvantage and the brutality of domestic violence has given me courage and determination to be better, to be different and to never give up no matter how hard life is. I want people to know that life can offer you so much more. Empowerment and knowledge are the greatest tools you will ever have, the chance to educate yourself into a career that matters to you so deeply is the direction I have taken by being braver to start studying at the age of 50 and believing enough in myself that I will succeed without question.

“I have been preparing myself for studies at SCU by research in Hardship. In 2019 I received The Uncle Greg Harrington Recognition of Achievement Award. I believe my academic performance of distinction and HD grades allowed me to receive this award. I have upheld this performance as more through the degree.

“Being an Aboriginal woman I would say with confidence that working with youth from disadvantaged backgrounds is instilled in my own life experience and what I have achieved as a student give me the skills of resilience.

“Over the course of my degree I have become blind and I still move forward with determination. A significant commitment to strive to succeed. If I can be a role model for self-determination I can with an open heart commit myself to helping youth.

“I am an Indigenous Australian who is recognised in the community and have my confirmation of aboriginality. I am also a parent with 4 children still living at home who are all at school and university. I am a carer to a loved one with mental health. It is hard financially. We are on one full time income and I work casually. The cost of living, rent etc is expensive, so we live week to week. We have done it tough for most of our life, never been able to save, we will struggle for another 4 years until I finish my degree and have a great job. Any help would be so very much appreciated.”

We are proud to have awarded Shelley our very first Goori Stars Stage 2 scholarship.

FLOOD VICTIM AWARDEES – 2022 SCU Students affected by the February floods.

We were happy to have been able to award small amounts of money to each of the following victims of the floods – and each of their heart-breaking stories is recorded below:

Kudra Falla-Ricketts

“I evacuated from my rental to stay at my family home during the floods. My rental was flooded over the roof, destroying everything I own including precious art supplies and expensive camera equipment. At 3 in the morning it became clear that my family home was also going to flood, for the first time ever. I had to wake up my little sister and tell her to gather what she could. I had to swim under the house in floodwater to retrieve the boat so it would not get stuck between the underneath of the house and the rising floodwater. I watched my dogs stand on furniture bewildered as the flood water rose above my waist level. I could hear my neighbours, who knew we had a boat, calling to us for help in the dark. Even though I had been up all night preparing and putting belongings into the ceiling, when we finally left the house in the boat at first light we found that almost every person who lived on our street was stranded on their roof, trying to wave us over even though our little tinnie was full of my family and our direct neighbours. After taking them to safety, I continued with my dad to rescue everyone on our street, and then neighbouring streets. I had to help my neighbours cut their way out of their flooded ceiling. I had to help my friend get his 92 year-old mum and disabled brother out of a window. This was unlike anything I have ever experienced, I tear up just thinking about it. If I could make myself believe that this was a freak event, a 1 in 100 year flood, I could sleep at night. But I haven’t had a good sleep since the flood, which was over a month ago. Exactly a month after the first flood, it happenned again. I packed everything up again, we evacuated in the early hours of the morning again. I lost everything I own, but the worst part is that my home doesn’t feel safe anymore. I am still living in temporary accommodation, 45 minutes from Lismore, because it’s all I could find. Every time I come back into Lismore or go back to my family home, or my rental which has been gutted, I feel like my community and my place of belonging will never recover, like my town, where I grew up, where we had the bentley blockade, where I am a real part of the community, volunteer with WIRES and the RFS, where I can’t walk down the street without seeing someone I know, is now going to slowly die, flood after flood. I don’t know if I can put my house on a truck and take it somewhere else, but I don’t feel like I can live there again and relive the trauma and fear over and over and over every time it floods. I had a job at legal aid that I started in January and I was thriving in as a paralegal before the floods, but I have now had to leave this employment because after the floods I’ve fallen so far behind at uni that I couldn’t catch up while also having to work. And since I’d been on the legal aid salary at the time of the floods, I’m not eligible for a lot of flood assistance, because even though I was only in the job for a few months and have now had to terminate, my salary there was just above the threshold during the months before the flood, which is when they want bank statements from. I am usually a very good student, and was so excited to be doing my honours this year in my final year, but now I’m in week 7, have barely done any research and just feel lost and overwhelmed and like it’s going to be horrible and I’m going to disappoint myself and ruin my GPA. I want to finish my Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours this year, then go to South America to volunteer with some legal organisations in countries that have better environmental laws than we do here in Australia (Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador). I want to come back and work for legal aid in criminal law for a while, and/or do an internship with a solicitor who does a lot of pro-bono work to defend activists, then get admitted. Then I want to go around to blockades and activist groups around Australia and do legal training for them and then defend (for free) anyone who gets arrested trying to protect the 2022 Flood Affected Students’ environment. I would like long-term to be able to work in environmental law and help write new environmental laws. My ultimate life goal is to help Australia to write a new constitution which includes a bill of rights, with extensive rights for indigenous peoples and rights for nature. Being in a better financial position would give me more housing options. The main concern for me at the moment, which is holding me back from getting on top of uni, is that I don’t have stable accommodation. I have a room with a friend 45 mins from lismore but also jump around from friend’s house to friend’s house, or sometimes stay in the family home which is still damaged and dysfunctional after the floods. Having a place to settle and feel safe would make a big difference to my mental wellbeing and ability to focus on uni, so I can get through this final year and do well, rather than feeling like I’ve let myself down.”

Karolina Klimek

“The first floods sank all my property and shared living areas, including all the white goods. The second flood resurfaced sewerage on the living level only. Both occasions cleaning took up time and affected my studies. I lost my second job but have been able to secure my library job at SCU. I have Hoshimoto thyroid disease that needs strong medication. During the floods this was disrupted affecting my physical health. I have started taking my medications again, it normally takes up to 3 months for my hormones to stabilize. I continue to feel weak physically and feel affected mentally. I honestly can not remember the last time I smiled. This is not an exaggeration, poor thyroid health affects mental health. I am currently living in my car, and using the rental property backyard as a camping set up with a BBQ for cooking and some storage. We were temporarily evicted until landlord’s insurance completed the work to the inside of the house. At this stage the house is stripped and there are large and loud fans going non stop. The noise pollution has affected me mentally and physically. My emotional health is not great. I cried when I learnt the library was not accessible over the easter weekend. I’m sure there is a security video proving my emotional outburst. Chris the builder has not communicated a time frame for when construction works might be complete. It is estimated between 3-6month. At this time I have no study space, this is my greatest issue. I need to finish this current assessment so that I can start practicum next month. If I am eligible to complete my practicum I will be doing this whilst living in a car as accommodation is difficult to find and secure. We need to find a roof for 2 people, not just myself for an unknown duration (until property construction is complete). Alternatively find a new home long term, min 12-18 months. Once the fans, heaters, and dehumidifiers have completed their works our landlord will let us back inside and start charging us 2/3s rent to secure the house for future renting. We will have access to the top floor and eventually the living and my areas once the walls, kitchen and toilet are back in. If we rent a temporary place for say 3 months then we will have two sets of rent to pay. At this stage the top floor of the rental has Michael’s equipment stored that was saved from the floods and equipment he replaced for his work etc. it’s a difficult situation, renting temporary space has its complexities and looking for long term accommodation has been and continues to be a large task and fight.

Andrei Mayirou

I am sole parent to a 5-year-old, our home and everything we owned was taken by the flood, everything we saved from the first flood was taken by the second. we still have a mortgage for a house that cannot be lived in, with no flood insurance.

I have been juggling care of my child (as her school was also impacted) cleaning, organising repairs on our house, and trying to find and move into a rental to provide some stability for my daughter and also trying to complete my unit. the flood took away our home, security, way of life. in the future I hope to sell the house and get something out of the way of disaster zones. I hope to complete my course and become a teacher. this scholarship will allow me to focus more on my studies whilst rebuilding my house. significantly reducing my anxiety. thanks for the consideration.

In 2023 we awarded Andrei a full scholarship: Master of Teaching (Secondary)

and Riana (her favoured name) wrote the following letter to SCU Scholarships:

To Stan, June and the Gilchrist Foundation,

I am currently enrolled in the Master of Teaching at Southern Cross University and as you know, I am the recipient of your scholarship.

The financial assistance that you have provided has made it possible for me to continue with my degree whilst recovering and rebuilding post flood. It has helped alleviate the stress of sole parenting whilst studying and dealing with the flood aftermath.
Your support has not only provided me with financial assistance, but it has also allowed me to focus more on my university experience as a whole. I love learning. A couple of terms ago I did a course “Education and Indigenous Australians: Ways of Knowing and Being” . I learnt about Australian Indigenous culture whilst studying on Aboriginal lands. It has been an immense privilege.

As a result of my recent studies, my future career plans have developed further. I would like to do a year teaching maths in Alice Springs to imerse myself amongst the locals, learn the culture and give back to country.

Thankyou without the help and support, this year could not have happened

I am appreciative of this scholarship opportunity and look forward to making the most of it.

Andrie Mayirou

Jarrod RotumahBachelor of Exercise Physiology at Southern Cross University

I am 33 years old and am an indigenous member of the Tweed Shire. I currently live in Fingal with my nan. I have lived in Fingal for the last 10 years as I had to re locate from my parental home to live with my nan due to personal issues in Adelaide.  Most of my life I never knew where or what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until June 2022 I had to stop working due to my mental health. My partner supported me through these hard stages of my life.
After 2 months of getting the help and support I needed I finally took the step to enrol in PSP course with SCU. I attended university 5 days a week to complete my studies as I didn’t have access to a computer to complete my studies from home.
I have now successfully been admitted into my undergraduate course. I know this is the beginning for me and I have a lot planned for the future. After I finish my studies, my goal is to be self-employed and specialise with the indigenous community. While working I am wanting to complete post graduate studies and continue on to complete my PHD.

At the moment I am currently living with my partner at my nan’s house, as we lost our house in the February 2022 floods. We left with one bag of clothes. Due to these floods it’s really been hard to get ahead of expenses we have each fortnight. It starts to take a toll when you can’t see the end of the tunnel. My partner also works overtime just so we have enough to get by pay check to pay check. Our savings depleted when we had to buy everything again.
I would be so grateful to be able to be considered and/or granted a scholarship to help me with my studies. I know I would have the best start to my undergraduate degree being able to get everything I need to undertake this course.

Phoebe Clifton – 2023 Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Laws at University of New England

Phoebe has already achieved national representation as an Equestrian rider. In her application for the UNE Sports Scholarship, Phoebe wrote:

I have wanted to study agriculture for as long as I can remember. I have grown up on our mixed family farm in Central West NSW and I have enjoyed getting involved and learning in every part of my family business. This has included sheepwork, operating machinery at harvest and sowing, working as part of a team and more recently helping my father plan and purchase genetics for our breeding program. In my HSC, I studied 4 units of English and 4 units of History which meant the majority of my work was research and writing based, both of which I enjoyed and achieved highly in. By applying to studying Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Laws I found that not only did the course look interesting, but it combined my interest in research, writing and working with people. From my experience on farm, I enjoy being out in the paddock but also research, planning and implementing business strategy. Another benefit to the course which assisted me in choosing it was the range of pathways which would be opened up to me on completion of my degree, as well as a broad skill set which I can use to achieve my goals for the future.

My initial career aspirations are work and learn from as many different areas as I can. I am inspired by both my parents who completed their degrees at UNE. My father following a direct path from high school, through university and back into agriculture while the skills that my mother has built during her career in educational leadership and now returning to farming have been crucial in growing our farm in recent years. I also have a desire to be a voice to those who can’t necessarily do it themselves. While studying, I would like to continue to assist my family farm in its planning and growth.

My family puts a very high emphasis on our education so despite the challenges we’ve always made it work even if it has meant sacrificing other opportunities. I understand the sacrifice that my parents have made for my education since I was twelve when I started in year seven at boarding school. The only thing that they have asked for in return is that we do well academically and that we get involved in the community. During my secondary education, we experienced fire, flood and drought which meant that our family has actively worked to increase our lamb trade to recover from the lost crop. The work that I completed on my family farm during these times of hardship contributed to and strengthened my desire to study Agriculture and Law.
It’s 670 km from UNE to my home but I have wanted to attend UNE to complete Bach of Ag/Bach of Laws is important to me and for my future.

By not receiving the scholarship to study at UNE, it will be difficult to find the funding for both my degree and college. I have only just finished school and the part time work that I have since been doing over harvest has not earnt me enough for both my study and college fees.