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University scholarships supporting Indigenous students’ dreams


Jessica Nelson
27 September 2021
Student nurse with baby manequin
Midwifery student Rebecca Thorne

Indigenous students have many reasons to apply for a scholarship at Southern Cross University with hundreds of scholarships on offer for 2022.

Anthony Olive, Team Leader of the Indigenous Australian Student Services (IASS) at Southern Cross, said the University was proud of its strong Indigenous cohort, and is continually working increase Indigenous student participation in higher education through personalised support and decreasing financial barriers.

“On average our IASS team at Southern Cross University supports more than 400 Indigenous students annually with some form of scholarship,” Mr Olive said.

“These scholarships are deeply appreciated and very meaningful to our Indigenous student cohort, ranging from textbook bursaries of $150 right up to full time educational and accommodation scholarships of $2500 and $5000, and in 2022 these will increase to a top of $8000 a year over three years, with an increased Indigenous scholarship pool worth more than $1million.

“These scholarships make up part of the wider scholarship pool worth approximately $3million in 2022.”

Mr Olive said the IASS team encourages all Indigenous Year 12 students to consider university as an option for further study, education and knowledge. He said people who have been out of school for a while can also apply for university study.

“Regardless of someone’s school success we have a number of dedicated pathway options specifically for Indigenous students to enter into study at Southern Cross,” Mr Olive said.

“While financial impacts have proven to be a major barrier to Indigenous students considering higher education as a viable option, our Indigenous Scholarship support is proven as giving our Indigenous students a greater chance of success providing the financial support to complement their study journey.

“This allows students to stress less about their financial capacity and gives them the best chance of success and progression, with the ability to solely concentrate on their studies while still supporting their families. The wide-ranging bursaries cover things such as accommodation, laptops and technology, textbooks, educational costs such as specialised course material including placement and residential support, as well as general living expenses.

“Our team has a dedicated, successful and long-standing relationship with our Indigenous communities throughout our University footprint, providing holistic support that starts from application and continues throughout the lifespan of a student’s study journey to graduation and beyond.

“We provide culturally-safe social and academic spaces at all campuses which includes computer labs and free printing, study and tutoring support, and Indigenous staff who provide a range of academic, social and emotional support services backed by our Indigenous Elders Council at Southern Cross."

Mr Olive said a highlight of his role is hearing from hundreds of Indigenous Southern Cross Uni graduates who contact IASS to personally thank the team for the support services and scholarships received – with the graduates saying they couldn’t have done it without the support.

Southern Cross University midwifery graduate Denae Nicholls recently thanked the IASS team for the financial support she received during her placement at Lismore Base Hospital.

“I am happy to say that I am now finished, my grades have been finalised, and I will be receiving my AHPRA registration within the next couple of weeks to start my job down in Melbourne. I would not have been able to complete my final placement in becoming a midwife without the scholarship support from IASS and I am very grateful,” she said.

Current Bachelor of Midwifery student Rebecca Thorne is on her final placement and says she received two scholarships – one to attend the prestigious Australian College of Midwives 2021 Conference and the other a cadetship through NSW Health, which has enabled her to work at the Tweed Hospital an additional 12 weeks on top of her university placements.

Rebecca is a proud Kunja woman living on Bundjalung country. She says it was following the birth of her own babies that she quit her 14-year career in fashion and enrolled in the Preparing for Success Program (PSP) at Southern Cross as a pathway to her dream of becoming a midwife.

“When I was in school I was told she wouldn’t be smart enough to study at University, but now that I’m here the journey to achieving my midwifery degree has been incredible with Southern Cross Uni supporting me every step of the way,” Rebecca said.

“The scholarship and cadetship have been really amazing in helping me increase my clinical skills and professional networks and just solidifies why I want to be a midwife, delivering culturally-safe woman-centred care, and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women within my community to feel empowered and know the power they have within themselves.

“There are Indigenous midwifery students who went before me such as scholarship recipient Taneeka Thomas who after graduating in 2018 went on to work in NSW Health and is doing amazing things now with the Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) program at Gold Coast University Hospital to improve health outcomes for Indigenous women. Seeing what she’s doing now is truly amazing.

Southern Cross University consistently ranks 5-stars for student support (Good Universities Guide 2022) and offers numerous scholarships for Indigenous students.

Indigenous scholarships on offer include the ANZ Indigenous Student Scholarship worth $5,000 a year over three years of full-time study, the Feros Care Nursing Scholarship worth $5,000, and a Scholarship from the The City of Lismore worth $5,000 scholarship for a local Indigenous resident from the Lismore region.

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Media contact: Jessica Nelson, media office at Southern Cross University, 0417 288 794 or