A remote study hub in southeast Arnhem Land is supporting the exchange of Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge and preparing high school graduates for university.
Nestled between the two remote communities of Numbulwar and Ngukurr at Wuyagiba outstation, Numbulwar and Ngukurr Elders launched the Wuyagiba Regional Study Hub pilot trial in 2018.
The pilot was backed by community and supported by Macquarie University, The Nature Conservancy and the Federal Government.
During the trial, academics were invited to Wuyagiba to teach university-level subjects on Country.
Macquarie University staff taught university skills, like using the Microsoft Office package, time management, budgeting and essay writing, while Elders taught local cultural knowledge, such as kinship, identity and bush medicine and looking after Country.
Dr Emilie Ens, Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University, said the study hub has exceeded expectations.
“When we set [the hub] up last year, we hoped that it would help bridge the gap for post-secondary students from the local area between remote country high school and the demands of a big city university and lifestyle,” Dr Ens said.
“Of the 15 students who graduated late last year, 13 of them enrolled at Macquarie University. Ten remain studying a variety of courses including education, Indigenous studies and environmental management.”
A fast-growing success, Ngukurr Elder Kevin Rogers said there are another 20 students enrolled in the course at Wuyagiba this year.
“We hope they’ll follow in the footsteps of last year’s graduates and move on to Sydney for further studies next year. They all plan on returning to Arnhem Land to practice their professions,” Mr Rogers said.
Former Wuyagiba student, Earnest Junya Daniels said going to Sydney from a remote community was a “massive change.”
“You are living a whole new chapter of life, becoming a leader in your own community. There will be many struggles that drive you to succeed. Be committed. Be adventurous and stay focused with determination. That’s what the Wuyagiba Study has allowed me to do.”