WOLLOTUKA CELEBRATES 30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
2013 marks a milestone for Wollotuka, which commenced in 1983 as a small enclave providing cultural support to Indigenous students.
The University of Newcastle is extremely proud to be a leader in providing education for Indigenous Australians. The Institute provides outstanding outcomes in Indigenous student engagement and leadership, teaching, research, community engagement and Indigenous staff employment.
Wollotuka has been celebrating its birthday throughout the year with a number of significant events that both honour the Indigenous people who have walked before us and highlight the strengths of the Wollotuka Institute in 2013.
Birabahn Cultural Trail Opening
The opening of the Birabahn Cultural Trail on 7 November 2013 was attended by 60 people from the University and Community. The trail was officially opened by Awabakal elders, Aunty June Rose and Aunty Sandra Griffin who noted the significance in acknowledging Awabakal presence on the University grounds. Professor John Maynard provided a talk on the background behind the interpretive signage along the trail which provides historical and cultural knowledge of the long association that Aboriginal people have with the University of Newcastle – Callaghan Campus site.
Newcastle Community applauds Indigenous Short Films
Wollotuka hosted an Indigenous Short Film Festival at Event Cinemas, King Street Newcastle on 31 October 2013 with two of the films featuring local Aboriginal talent.
An audience of 150 were presented with six Indigenous short films. Tracey Rigney's film Abalone was showcased on the night. This film was also named best short film at the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Canada featuring local Aboriginal actor, Rodney Smith. Dr Romaine Moreton's film The Oysterman was also shown on the night as well as the Toronto festival and featured local Aboriginal man, Raymond Kelly. Dr Moreton was a previous research fellow with The Wollotuka Institute and Raymond Kelly is currently completing his Phd with Wollotuka.
Other films shown on the night which were showcased at the Toronto festival were Margaret Harvey's The Hunter and Jon Bell's The Chuck In. Kimberley West's In the Air and Tiffany Parker's Scar were also shown at the Wollotuka event.
Acknowledging our Elders
Elders play a vital role within Wollotuka and the Community providing their valuable cultural wisdom and contributing to the cultural and spiritual wellbeing of our people and wider Community.
On 19 October Wollotuka held a dinner in honour of our Elders both past and present thanking them for their valuable contributions.
The dinner MC's were current students, Jordyn Pol and Jack McDonald, acknowledging the role that Elders have played in their own lives both within and outside of Wollotuka The 80 elders and their guests enjoyed a fine evening with dinner and refreshments and acknowledged how great it was to 'catch-up' with others they haven't seen for so long. The guests were also entertained by our very own student singer/guitarist, Jesse Hodgetts. A great night watching our young students and elders enjoying themselves together.
Wollotuka hosted a graduation event on Friday 4 October at the Birabahn Building acknowledging the great achievements of the 112 enabling, undergraduate and postgraduate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who graduated in 2013.
The dinner MC was Bachelor of Psychology student, Peta-Lee Moran and was attending by 120 graduates, their families and friends and Community. Guests enjoyed a two course dinner and was entertained once again by Jesse Hodgetts.
Dr Stephanie Gilbert provided an inspirational student response as the only Aboriginal post doctoral student to graduate.
Students were presented with a certificate and artwork in commemoration of their achievement.
Reconciliation Scholarship Dinner - a glowing testament to Community supporting Reconciliation
The Wollotuka Institute Reconciliation Week 2013 celebrations culminated with the annual Reconciliation Scholarship Ball held on 1st June at Newcastle Panthers. It aimed to foster and build relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians and businesses with a passion for Aboriginal education, and to establishing a self sustaining Scholarship fund that will support students through full-time study, in particular those who are not eligible for Commonwealth assistance.
Affectionately named The Black & White Ball when it was first held in 1999, one hundred guests from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities from the University and Hunter Region came together in a show of solidarity. In 2013 the Black & White Ball brought 340 guests together which is a glowing testament to the community and corporate support for the work the Wollotuka Institute is doing in the Higher education sector.
The University of Newcastle and The Wollotuka Institute's target of $1 million for the Aboriginal Scholarship fund saw the 2013 Black & White Ball raise $15,000 on the night in sponsorship, silent auction and balloon sales with a private donation of more than $200,000!
Guests enjoyed champagne and canapés on arrival, a three course premium menu dinner and were entertained by renowned Aboriginal hip hop trio The Last Kinection featuring Joel Wenitong, Naomi Wenitong with DJ Jaytee and supported by The Soul Machine, featuring Newcastle's upcoming vocalist Cassia Shirlie with Willy Graham on keys.
The Wollotuka Institute will host the 2014 Black & White Ball on Saturday 31 May at Newcastle Panthers and looks forward to seeing you all there.
High Tea bringing together cultures to recognise International Womens Day
Wollotuka's first event to celebrate its 30th Anniversary was a high tea to celebrate International Womens Day on 7th March. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous women from the University attended the event as well as an invited guests.