An agreement between Wyong Coal and Guringai Tribal Link Aboriginal Corporation (Guringai TLAC) is delivering increased educational opportunities for the NSW Central Coast indigenous community, with the first of four tertiary scholarships being announced.
Rachel Kulk, 23, from Wyee is the first recipient of a scholarship which will see her undertake studies for a Bachelor of Science at the University of Newcastle.
Rachel is proud of her Aboriginal heritage with the Guringai people and said the opportunities created through the agreement between the Guringai TLAC and Wyong Coal was important for her family and other local Aboriginal and Indigenous young people.
“My Aboriginality is a part of me; it’s a part of my spirit and a connection to my country,” Rachel said.
“Science is a field I’ve always been really interested in, particularly chemistry and earth sciences are so important because we need to look after our environment for all future generations.
“I’m not sure exactly what job I’d like to do when I finish my degree yet, but postgraduate studies are definitely a goal for me. I may even pursue science within the coal industry,” she said.
The Mutual Advancement Covenant was developed between Wyong Coal, the proponents of the Wallarah 2 Coal Project, and the Guringai TLAC in a bid to guarantee Indigenous people do not miss out on education and training opportunities.
The five program areas that are funded under the three-year agreement include apprenticeship scholarships, business start-ups, mentoring, a Green Team scheme and tertiary scholarships. The agreement also provides for a guaranteed minimum target of 10 per cent employment for Indigenous people once the Wallarah 2 Coal Project becomes operational.
Both parties say the agreement is not only an outstanding opportunity for education, training and business development, but also aims to increase awareness of the rich local heritage, identity and culture of Aboriginal people on the Central Coast.
“Receiving this scholarship to study at university is an opportunity to really challenge the generational barriers in my family and embrace my Aboriginal heritage, and I thank Wallarah 2 for seeing my potential and helping me reach my goal of becoming a university graduate, in a field of study I am truly passionate about,” Rachel said.