New scholarship aims to improve health and wellbeing in Indigenous communities

New scholarship aims to improve health and wellbeing in Indigenous communities

To help address the health needs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across rural NSW, the University of Newcastle has launched a new Indigenous scholarship in the field of Speech Pathology.

Funded by the Vonwiller Foundation, the philanthropic partnership will offer a scholarship of $12,000 over a three-year period, open to Indigenous students enrolled in their first year of a Bachelor of Speech Pathology.

Associate Professor in Speech Pathology from the University’s Faculty of Education and Arts, Sally Hewat, said the scholarship was a fantastic opportunity to support Indigenous students and their insights into the cultural, speech, language and communication needs of their communities.

“There is a high demand for speech pathologists in Indigenous communities across rural NSW, especially amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who often have higher rates of middle ear disease and other associated speech, language and literacy difficulties,” Sally said.

“By supporting our Indigenous students, we hope ultimately to see an improvement in health outcomes in Indigenous communities across rural NSW by having a greater number of Indigenous speech pathologists working within and addressing the needs the needs of the community.”

The Vonwiller Foundation was established by the Vonwiller family in 2009 to support education, science and technology, and health.

Dr Julia Vonwiller from the Foundation said the scholarship will provide much needed support for Indigenous students studying in the critical area of Indigenous health and wellbeing.

“Speech and language development are a necessary foundation for education,” Julia said.

“This is especially critical in early-stage education, so we are excited to partner with the University of Newcastle on this scholarship to try and address some of the gaps in the health needs of Indigenous communities across NSW.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Leadership, Nathan Towney, said that with more than 1,500 Indigenous graduates, the University of Newcastle was deeply committed to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, wellbeing and educational opportunities.

“Initiatives like this one with the Vonwiller Foundation will have tremendous outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and the communities they support during their studies and beyond,” Nathan said.

“By providing financial support in the form of scholarships, students can be relieved of the financial burden that often comes with full time study and instead have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in their studies.”

Scholarship applications will be assessed and awarded in March 2021.

IMAGE | The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags at Wollotuka.

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