The Wollotuka Institute proudly celebrates recent achievements

Guthi Wangga - Celebrating our Achievements

January - July 2016

Testament to the outstanding performance of Wollotuka Staff

Wollotuka can boast quite a few statistics in regards to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, particularly being the first Australian University to reach over 1000 enrolments, which is testament to the outstanding and tireless work performed by staff within Wollotuka:-

“The University is the preferred study destination for Indigenous students in NSW and ACT topping the state in Indigenous student preferences from UAC. In 2016, the University received 303 first preferences from Indigenous students, 62% more than the next ranked University at 187. At 1,314 total preferences the University received 38% more preferences from Indigenous students than the next ranked institution at 950 (Source: Universities Admission Centre)”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student enrolments continue to rise compared to total domestic enrolments (Source: University MIS, 19 July 2016)

  2014 2015 2016 YTD
Domestic program enrolments 32766 31014 29840
Indigenous enrolments 976 993 1035
Indigenous enrolments % 3.0% 3.2% 3.5%

2016 ASSETS Summer School

Wollotuka hosted The Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science (ASSETS) Summer Camp that is run through CSIRO from 8 – 16 January 2016. We had 38 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from around Australia staying at International House and completing cultural workshops in the Birabahn building.  This is a great achievement for Wollotuka and UoN as there are only 3 camps around Australia and Professor Peter Radoll was able to secure Newcastle as a location.

CareerTrackers Partnership

Wollotuka has entered into a 10-year partnership agreement with CareerTrackers (to be reviewed after 5 years).  We have been working with CareerTrackers since 2013 creating internship opportunities for Indigenous university students with this agreement formalising the already solid partnership we have with them to improve placement for Indigenous interns with Australia's leading corporate organisations.

Cheryl Newton,  Derek Kinchela, Nigel Craig and Tareka Whaleboat attending their 6 th Annual Gala Dinner in Sydney on Thursday 4 February along with 1,700 people made up of interns and families, corporate members, universities and careertrackers staff, where we were presented with a knowledge stick by one of our interns, Ray French as part of the formal ceremony. Ray along with 5 of our other interns were also presented with gold diaries during the evening celebrating academic excellence.

We also held an event at Wollotuka on 14 March to launch the partnership with one of our graduates, Peta-Lee Moran, a Senior Student Advisor with CareerTrackers, providing an inspirational speech to students and staff in attendance.


We hosted 40 students to a 3 day/2 night cultural camp at Glenrock State Recreation Area Scout Camp.  The students were introduced to University life through workshops and seminar sessions.  They enjoyed cultural tours and “getting to know” one another through informal games and other sessions.

Bangiyal* Ceremony

Implementation of our Cultural Standards is a key focus for Wollotuka and we continue to welcome guests and commencing students through our Bangiyal ceremony which recognises our custodianship responsibilities, providing an offering, a message or a commitment to our countries, spaces and communities, across all campuses, informed by traditional values and practice.

To follow on from this ceremony we have introduced a Flag Raising Ceremony held on the first Monday of each month giving us space to reflect on the past, the lessons learnt, and remembering our Nguraki passed and present who have cleared our path for us to continue to travel.

* in the Gathang language meaning "new"


Wollotuka’s annual graduation function was held on Friday 1 April 2016 where around 80 people were hosted to a great cocktail evening celebrating the achievements of our graduates during a formal ceremony after which people relaxed and enjoyed some karaoke. Positive feedback was received regarding the event and big thanks to the Student Engagement Team for all the work they put into making it such a success.

A number of staff also attended the University graduation events throughout the week having the privilege to witness our students in their formal graduation ceremonies.  Particular recognition for two of our Wollotuka RhD students who received awards for Research Higher Degree Excellence - Dr Raymond Kelly graduating with a PhD (Aboriginal Studies) and Nicole Chaffey graduating with a MPhil (Aboriginal Studies). Big congratulations to both of these graduates and all our other graduates.

Reconciliation Scholarship Fundraiser

Our annual fundraiser event was held on 28 May 2016 where a crowd of 200 people enjoyed the cocktail style function to raise funds towards UoN's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship Fund. University staff, students and community enjoyed an evening of great food, wine and dancing as well as being entertained by our auction event.  The night raised $10,000 towards the scholarship fund.

The recipient of this year's scholarship, Kishaya Delaney, a second year Bachelor Law(Honours)/Bachelor Communications student and proud Wiradjuri woman from Orange, now living in Newcastle, delivered an outstanding acceptance speech on the night which received wonderful accolades from the audience.

June - September 2015

Our Nguraki Celebrate great achievements

Aunty Colleen Perry was internationally recognised recently with the awarding of an honorary Doctor of Letters (Indigenous Knowledges) by the World Indigenous Nations University (WINU) which is aligned with WINHEC.

Aunty Colleen Perry also received a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Advisory Council Elders Award in June.

Both these awards are in recognition of Aunty Colleen's contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education in particular her outstanding work at the University of Newcastle with staff and students as an Elder in Residence and her contributions to local Elders groups and communities locally, nationally and internationally.

National Indigenous Tertiary Education Student Games (NITESG) – 28 June to 2nd July 2015

NITESG began as a joint class project between 13 students enrolled in a Diploma of Aboriginal Studies (Community Recreation) at the then Wollotuka School for Aboriginal Studies, the University of Newcastle, in 1996. The first Games were attended by around 30 students, and have since grown to host hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tertiary students from Universities all around Australia, competing in four core sports (touch football, netball, basketball, volleyball) plus a traditional Indigenous game every year.

The objectives of NITESG are:

  1. Celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture
  2. Promote unity, health, fitness and well-being
  3. Demonstration of self determination
  4. Initiating new communication networks
  5. Reinforce identity through positive role models
  6. Successful and ongoing outcomes

Usually the games are hosted by the previous years winning team but as the instigator of the first games Wollotuka hosted the 20th anniversary games this year  which was a great success with participants enjoying competing in the sports as well as immersing themselves in cultural and social activities. There were also many firsts:-

  • 420 students from across 22 universities with 28 teams competing – the largest number of students in games history
  • The event was live streamed on YouTube through BarTV and the highlights and finals are still on YouTube
  • A formal partnership was developed with Australian University Sport
  • Majority of financial costs for the event were sourced through third party sponsorships and registrations with minimal impact on Wollotuka's budget
  • Development of a National Indigenous Games committee with the establishment of a 5 year strategic plan to ensure longevity and sustainability of the games.

Wollotuka was crowned overall champions for the 2nd time in games history and the first since 2006. Next year's games will be held in Brisbane by Australian Catholic University.

Inaugural Uncle Leonard De Silva Memorial Lecture

Hosted by Wollotuka this lecture is in honour of Dr Leonard De Silva (1915-1995) who was the first Aboriginal person to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Newcastle and probably the first to receive such an award in the area of Traditional Lore.  He received this in 1992. Dr De Silva was born at Yellow Rock in North Eastern New South Wales and passed through the rules of his people in the 1930s.

The lecture titled "The Big Question: What innovation would most improve Aboriginal lives in the next decade? Aboriginal Futures and being impatient for Change" was presented at the Newcastle Museum on 4 August by Dr Lester-Irabinna Rigney, Professor of Aboriginal Education in the School of Education at University of South Australia. Dr Rigney provided a descriptive analysis of issues related to Aboriginal Futures and use of Information and Communication Technology among Aboriginal youth and their communities.

The NSW Governor Visit

The NSW Governor, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley, visited Wollotuka on 3 August and was extremely impressed with his engagement with staff and students.  From this meeting he sent an invitation for five staff and students to attend his reception for the International Day of World's Indigenous Peoples at Government House. Well done everyone that was involved in the day and its organisation.

Our staff and students celebrating World Indigenous Peoples Day at government house.

International Partnership Agreements

Signing of Memorandums of Understanding

MOU's were signed with University of Inner Mongolia for Nationalities and Minzu University, China in July 2015. After our many meetings and negotiations we signed these MOU's as we could see the value in shared knowledges particularly in Education and Medicine (traditional medicines).

These exciting new MOU's will open doors in the international arena in the areas of student and staff exchanges, research opportunities and curriculum development opportunities.

Work Integrated Learning (Cooperative) partnership

This is a unique partnership between Wollotuka and University of Victoria, Canada where a student exchange between both our universities has already commenced where both students will be working and studying at each University