Graduates celebrate on country, on point

Batchelor Institute Senior Director of Alliance Management Dr Stephen Hagan with graduates Hamish and Rakuwan Gondarra. Photo by Darren O’Dwyer

The remote community of Yirrkala recently celebrated the achievements of 40 graduates who have completed a range of courses at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education.

The ceremony was the largest of its kind on record for Yirrkala, allowing students to celebrate their accomplishments with their friends and family in community rather than travel long distances to a graduation held on one of the main campuses in Darwin and Alice Springs.

Students donned Batchelor Institute’s yellow gowns and ochre panels and many students also incorporated traditional headpieces and face-painting with their academic dress.

The majority of students attained Certificates I and II in Conservation and Land Management to help in their current roles as Aboriginal rangers.

Several students also completed a Certificate II in Resources and Infrastructure Work Preparation, as well as those who received certifications in Business, Training and Assessment and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Care.

Teacher Linguist at Yirrkala School Yalmay Yunupingu highlighted the significance of the event and paid tribute to the long line of Aboriginal educators that have paved the way.

“Today Yirrkala also celebrates our community’s educators and the wonderful things that they have done in the world that were not there before,” Ms Yunupingu said.

“Here we celebrate our Yolŋu people in the education sector who have worked persistently, those of you here and those of you that are not with us anymore.”

Among the graduates were father and daughter Hamish and Rakuwan Gondarra, who completed their Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management. Hamish is currently working as a ranger with the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation. During his studies he was also a part of the Learning on Country program, which sees Aboriginal rangers and elders contribute to the education of school students.

Rakuwan was a year 12 VET in Schools student, who completed her year 12 certificate and the Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management as well as becoming a mother.

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