The MGA wins the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Initiative of the Year award

Pictured left to right: Kim Trahar (MGA staff), Jessica Lu (MGA Committee Member), Leanne Vosper (MGA Staff), Natasha Abrahams (2019 CAPA President), Rachel Brisbane (2019 CAPA Vice President) and Sharlene Leroy-Dyer (2019 NATSIPA President). Photo by Seun Omelewa Visuals.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduate students excel together

When everyone was logging out and leaving Monash at the end of December 2019, the MGA was busy participating in the Council of Postgraduate Association’s (CAPA) annual conference. At their 40-year anniversary Gala Dinner, the MGA was surprised and thrilled to win the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Initiative of the Year award!

Presented by CAPA’s sister organisation, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA), the award recognised the MGA’s work leading NATSIPA’s 20-year anniversary conference. Hosted in Melbourne in October 2019, the NATSIPA conference brought together over 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduate students from across Australia.

A big shout-out goes to MGA’s President Robyn Oxley and former MGAEC Indigenous Students’ Officer Cammi Murrup-Stewart, who both offered their leadership skills to make the event a success.

The NATSIPA conference is a vital event for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduate students around Australia. It facilitates meaningful conversations about the challenges they face and ways to improve equitable access and better standards for their cohort. The conference is also a space for Indigenous graduate students to learn more about other research projects and methodologies out there, to gain insights into scholarship and administration processes in higher education, to network and get inspiration for future careers.

“The people are the best thing about the NATSIPA gatherings,” says Ms Murrup-Stewart.

“The Indigenous community is based on relationships and in Western institutions, we can often feel very isolated from other mob. Meeting other Indigenous graduate students and academics, sharing struggles and success stories, finding inspiration, and discovering that there is actually an academic space where you and your story belong is an incredible experience. Many Indigenous graduate students are the first in their family, and finding others that support you and can help you along the way is a huge motivation.”

The MGA would like to congratulate other winners at the CAPA awards, and say a big thanks to NATSIPA for this award. Here’s to working together to create better opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduate students to come together to support each other and to set the agenda for their progress through graduate study.

As Ms Murrup-Stewart says, “we can be excellent in whatever our chosen field”.

If you are an Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander who would like to join NATSIPA or look for scholarships to support your studies, go to the NATSIPA webpage and Facebook page for information and updates.

The MGA is currently looking to co-opt a new Indigenous Officer onto the MGA’s Executive Committee. If you are interested, find out more about the role HERE.