The Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Residential Scholarship Program is now in its 16th year of operation. Our mission is to close the gap by increasing the numbers of Indigenous professionals. To date, the program has had 66 graduates.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the college which usually houses 133 residents. As it stands there are 57 residents in college and 24 of those are Indigenous. Unlike many other Residential Colleges, Shalom College remained open throughout the lockdown period largely to cater to our cohort of Indigenous students. For many of those students their families were interstate or their home environments were not conducive to learning.
The 2020 Universities Australia Report listed the many challenges that were disproportionately experienced by Indigenous students during the pandemic that served as barriers to remaining at university. These were:
All these challenges were directly alleviated by a Gamarada residential scholarship. The college provides a high level of pastoral care, a high proportion of Resident Advisors and academic tutors. Students were able to study in a quiet space, with uninterrupted internet access and all the technological support required to smoothly transition to online learning.
The Report also states that over a nine-year period the Indigenous graduation rate is at 47% compared to 74% for non-Indigenous students. This shows the massive gap that still exists, and the significant impact that a residential scholarship program like Gamarada is making. Our students graduate at a rate of over 70% in line with that of non-Indigenous students. This is a remarkable achievement and one that should be recognized for its significant contribution in changing workplaces and communities.
We have been partnering with AIEF to provide residential scholarships to Indigenous students for the past 11 years. We were thrilled to partner on three new scholarships in 2021. These scholarships were awarded to Jake Hobday, studying criminology; Miranda Wallace, studying Preparatory Science with aspirations to get into medicine, and Charlotte Bridge studying Commerce. We are confident they will be excellent ambassadors for both Gamarada and AIEF in the future.
We look forward to collaborating closely with AIEF in 2022.