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$1.3m investment in tertiary scholarships helps students achieve their dreams

AIEF-Shalom Gamarada Scholarship Student Murrie Kemp gave the following speech at an event marking NAIDOC Week in the Sydney office of AIEF Corporate Partner HBSC on 8 July 2016.

Murrie is studying a Bachelor of Exercise Physiology at the University of New South Wales and is currently in his fourth year. He is originally from Woorabinda, QLD and his scholarship supports him to live on campus at Shalom College. Ultimately, Murrie would like to run his own practice and work with an elite sports team that tours the world. He would also like to work for an allied health service in Indigenous communities and undertake scientific research into traditional Indigenous medicine.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to extend my many thanks to those present today which include staff of HSBC, the speakers from Fred Hollows foundation, the Royal Botanical Gardens, AIEF and other distinguished guests.

Before I commence with my speech I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and pay respects to elders past present and future for they hold the traditions, story and hopes of Indigenous Australia. For under this concrete and asphalt this will always be traditional Gadigal land.

First of all I would like to introduce myself and tell you a little about myself. My name is Murrie Kemp and I am Ghungalu man from central Queensland.

I grew up in a small indigenous community called Woorabinda. In my language Woorabinda means Kangaroo sit down.

I am very fortunate that my grandfather has passed down many traditions including sacred dances, initiation and language as these all play a key role in Indigenous Australian culture and way of life.

My Grandfather was a descendant of our tribe’s medicine men – in my language we call these yarrabunbuddi.

He passed down knowledge of traditional bush medicines that were used for various purposes. For example, we used a medicine from a plant we called gumbi gumbi to treat the common cold.

At an early age I had experienced quite a lot of loss losing immediate family members to chronic illnesses including my mother at the age of eight. I believe from this I grew up quite early and realised that I wanted to end up doing something to help my people and prevent other people having to go through the same thing I did.

From a very early age my mother instilled the value of education in me showing me that education is key to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. With the value of education in my mind I decided that one-day I would come back to my community and help treat those suffering from chronic illnesses.

In my teenage years I was fortunate enough to go to a private boarding school in Orange called Kinross Wolaroi School, which is roughly five hours west of Sydney.

At first being the only Indigenous person in school I thought this wasn’t the place for me but as I endured, keeping my mother’s ambitions for me in check.

I went all the way to Year 12 and became the first Indigenous boarding captain to go through the school. From school I wasn’t sure which medical field I wanted to go into, I originally thought physiotherapy was the right choice for me but the University of NSW offered exercise physiology which is more in line with my aspirations, and I am currently in my fourth year

For those that don’t know what exercise physiology is, it is a growing field that provides exercise as a treatment option to extend the quality of life of clients with chronic illnesses such as post-heart attack patients, diabetic patients even those with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Exercise physiology can also be applied to athletes – for example if a client needs to improve speed we will develop a program that will increase explosive power.

One day, I hope to get a PHD in incorporating Indigenous Australian medicine with modern medicine and hopefully find possible cures for diseases such as cancer.

Upon acceptance into UNSW I applied for the AIEF-Shalom Gamarada scholarship which is an accommodation scholarship covering most of the accommodation costs at Shalom College.

I just want to extend my gratitude to AIEF for making this scholarship available to tertiary students because without the funding from them this would not be possible and there is no way I would be able to go to university without making huge sacrifices.

Myself and around 20 other students are recipients of the scholarship and I am sure they share a similar view in how much impact this scholarship has made on our lives.

Without the scholarship I believe my time at university would have had significant tolls on my financial, mental and physical health and to be honest with you I probably would have dropped out.

I would like to acknowledge the massive contribution HSBC has made in providing funding to AIEF investing a mind blowing $1.3 dollars into tertiary scholarships like mine, providing students with an opportunity to achieve our dreams without financial stresses coming into play.

AIEF are a great organisation providing scholarships not only to tertiary students but high school students as well.

Last year they provided scholarships to 524 school and university students from 259 communities in every state and territory of Australia.

93% of students stay at school and complete Year 12 and 311 scholarship students have completed Year 12 since AIEF was established in 2008. Another 19 have graduated from university on scholarships like mine.

I would like to point out that not only does AIEF provide financial support they provide individual mentoring to each student they take on. Anna is my personal mentor and if I have any issues regarding anything including university, family issues, career advice/opportunities she is there to support me and help with anything that I am struggling with.

An example of this is one of my many aspirations is that I one day want to travel with a professional sporting team. I have had previous dealings with the Waratahs through various other organisations and asked Anna if she could some how help me out. I am just so impressed that Anna was on board straight away and was happy to do what she could to help me reach my dream.

Lastly I would like to highlight the importance of NAIDOC Week and what it means to me. I believe NAIDOC Week is a week that brings people from all backgrounds together ato celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements, also recognising the many contributions Indigenous Australians have made to our country. This year’s NAIDOC theme is Songlines: the living narrative of our nation. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Dreamtime describes a time when the earth, people and animals were created by our ancestral spiritual beings. They created the rivers, lakes, plants, land formations and living creatures.

Songlines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance and art. They carry significant spiritual and cultural connection to knowledge, customs, ceremony and Lore of many Aboriginal nations and Torres Strait Islander language groups. Songlines have been passed down for thousands of years and are central to the existence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are imperative to the preservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices.

In conclusion I would like to once again extend my gratitude to the massive contribution HSBC has made towards the AIEF fund. And I would like to finish on a quote from MuhammadAli which is the one quote I have followed my whole life thus far when times got tough: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

Thank you very much for listening enjoy the rest of NAIDOC Week.

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AIEF is making sure there are opportunities for Yolngu kids to get access to the best education possible and making sure that balanda [whitefella] kids learn about Yolngu as well.

Djambawa Marawili AM


The AIEF Scholarship Program and the AIEF Pathways Program are supported by the Australian Government in collaboration with individual, philanthropic and corporate supporters from the private sector.