40 years of the Wollotuka Institute

28 NOVEMBER 2023

Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle—Deputy Speaker) (13:31): I rise to congratulate the Wollotuka Institute, a centre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence at the University of Newcastle, on their 40th anniversary. Since 1983 Wollotuka has operated as a vital centre of support for First Nations students, ensuring higher education that is both academically enriching and culturally affirming. I was honoured to join with students, staff and community at Wollotuka last Friday to celebrate 40 years of remarkable success and to listen to the stories of those who were there from the beginning through to the staff and students of today. I especially want to recognise Associate Professor Kath Butler, Professor John Maynard, Dr Ray Kelly, Deidre Heitmeyer, Nathan Towney, Mandy Kelly, Cheryl Newton and so many more.

I have seen firsthand how Wollotuka changes lives. It's like a big extended family providing much-needed social, cultural, financial, physical and emotional support to the largest number of First Nations students in any university in Australia, including the 2,041 First Nations students currently enrolled. This year 243 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students will graduate from a wide range of degree programs. I pay tribute to the elders in residence, the cultural mentors and the Nguraki committee that provides guidance and advice on cultural standards, programs and protocols.

Wollotuka is best practice when it comes to First Nations higher education. Thank you for your extraordinary excellence and for your service, and may the next 40 years be even more remarkable.