PROFESSOR Cindy Shannon takes pride in the success the organisation she leads is having in “closing the gap” in education opportunities for indigenous young people.
Prof Cindy Shannon, who chairs the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation (QATSIF), spoke of the organisation’s success at the 2015 Brisbane QATSIF graduation ceremony at the University of Queensland on October 22.
“The thing I’m extremely proud of is that all the indicators that we have got now suggest that we are about to close the gap in retention (of students) to Year 12 and I think that is an extraordinary outcome because it is the only close-the-gap measure that even looks like closing at the moment,” she said.
Prof Shannon said 3700 scholarships had been awarded to indigenous Queensland youth to help them to complete their secondary studies since 2010.
She said QATSIF was established in late 2008 to utilise income from the investment of “stolen wages” from “previous generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders” and the first scholarships were awarded in 2010.
“QATSIF won’t ever lose sight of Stolen Wages but is totally committed to doing all within our power to ‘close the gap’ on disadvantage,” Prof Shannon said.
“We can’t change history but we can change the future, and the future is education and our young people.”
The Brisbane graduation ceremony saw the efforts of Year 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander QATSIF Scholarship recipients from 47 Brisbane schools, including a large number from the Catholic sector, recognised for their efforts in successfully completing Year 12 in 2015.
Prof Shannon thanked the students for their effort and commitment to the scholarship program.
She acknowledged “all of your commitment, the commitment of your family, the commitment of your school”.
“I thank you all very much for that,” she said.
Prof Shannon said that, although QATSIF’s primary role was awarding scholarships to help students complete Years 10-12, there was an added spin-off.
“Stories of resilience, stories of success, stories of absolute inspiration … all of that is embodied in a growing admiration for and an acceptance of identity and culture and I think that’s fabulous,” she said.
This year 487 Brisbane QATSIF scholarship recipients completed Year 12, with a similar number graduating throughout the rest of Queensland.
A graduation ceremony was also held in Cairns on October 15.