09/06/2017 - 11:00

Support for indigenous accommodation at UWA

09/06/2017 - 11:00

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The state and federal governments have announced a $12.8 million grant to build custom-designed indigenous accommodation at St Catherine’s College at the University of Western Australia.

Support for indigenous accommodation at UWA
An artist's impression of the new accommodation at St Catherine's College.

The state and federal governments have announced a $12.8 million grant to build custom-designed indigenous accommodation at St Catherine’s College at the University of Western Australia.

The new funding will double the capacity of the Dandjoo Darbalung program at the college to 100 students, to help young indigenous people from remote communities complete tertiary education.

The Commonwealth provided the lion’s share of the funding, under the National Partnership on Remote Housing program.

The Western Australia Housing Authority will work with St Catherine’s on procurement and construction, with the college to be responsible for management and operation of the program.

Work is expected to get underway this year and be completed in time for the start of first semester in 2019.

The accommodation will have shared living and learning spaces, and a large banksia-shaped central meeting place.

The program’s ambassador, Barry McGuire, said the purpose-built accommodation would provide a space that was balanced for Aboriginal ways of life and learning.

“From this we will see many prosperous professionals come and stand in all walks of life and proudly represent our people,” Mr McGuire said.

“It will allow young people to excel in their studies and become who they want to be.”

UWA vice-chancellor Dawn Freshwater said the program did more than support students while they’re at university.

“It also works on the key transition points for completing Year 12 into university and subsequently from university into skilled and sustained employment,” she said.

“Since 2012, the program has achieved higher than a 90 per cent retention rate for Aboriginal students.”

Housing Minister Peter Tinley said the accommodation project would enable more Aboriginal students from remote communities to develop knowledge and skills that would lead to employment by addressing the challenges they face.

“Doubling its capacity to 100 students will make it the biggest tertiary residential program of its type in Australia,” he said.

“The Dandjoo Darbalung program has the capacity to change lives and positively affect educational outcomes for young Aboriginal people and their communities.”

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