Department of State Development
Scholarship helps Aboriginal students achieve higher education goals

19 June

Scholarship helps Aboriginal students achieve higher education goals

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UniSA Social Work student, Nikita Charlton has fought tooth and nail to get to university and to complete her degree. Now in her final year of study, she has some extra support from the State Government to make it over the line.

Nikita, from Whyalla, is the 2017 recipient of the annual Gavin Wanganeen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship which is supported by the Reconciliation Action Committee and funded through the Department of State Development (DSD).

Balancing university study with being mum to three young children is hard enough, but Nikita had the added challenge of having only completed one year of high school. She has worked hard to overcome barriers to her education, successfully completing foundation studies and starting a degree in social work. 

Now as she closes in on her goal, Nikita is looking to the future and planning to use her degree to give back to her community.

“I am hoping that by completing my social work studies I will gain knowledge and lifelong skills to help work in rural and remote communities around Australia,” Nikita said.

“I want to help promote equality and encourage young Australians to access services required to assist them to break down barriers to their education and gain a better quality of life.”

Named in honour of Port Adelaide Football Club/AFL legend and Aboriginal role-model Gavin Wanganeen, the scholarship provides $5000 to support a final year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student, easing the financial burden so they are free to focus on study. 

The Gavin Wanganeen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship is the first of its kind in Australia. Since 2005, it has supported 35 Indigenous UniSA students to achieve in education, to find jobs, go onto further study and become leaders in their fields and role models to their communities. 

The scholarship is one of a range of DSD initiatives to support Aboriginal South Australians achieve in education and employment.