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Nursing student to advocate for social change in Indigenous communities through scholarship

Kate Gavin in Rome

Bright future: Nursing student Kate Gavin stands outside St Peter’s Square and Basilica in Rome after receiving the Francis Xavier Conaci scholarship from the Australian Catholic University. The scholarship will allow her to study at the ACU’S Rome campus. Photo: ACU.

NURSING student Kate Gavin will honour Indigenous women as she prepares to study in Rome thanks to a scholarship from the Australian Catholic University.

The Australian Catholic University student from Brisbane was named the 2018 Francis Xavier Conaci scholarship recipient, which will allow her to study at the institution’s Rome campus.

Named after an Aboriginal boy from Australia who left New Norcia, Western Australia, to study in the seminary in Rome in 1849, the Francis Xavier Conaci scholarship supports Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students study in Rome as part of their course’s core curriculum requirement.

Miss Gavin, who is in her third year of nursing at ACU, is an Aboriginal woman from Noosa, whose grandfather was among the Stolen Generation.

He was taken from his mother and raised in an orphanage in Perth.

Miss Gavin will use the scholarship to complete a unit looking at the disadvantages experience by Indingeous communities, among other vulnerable minorities.

Ahead of receiving her award from ACU and Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Melissa Hitchman, Miss Gavin said she was honoured as a woman of Aboriginal heritage to receive the scholarship.

“I believe that this scholarship provides me with a platform to honour Indigenous women across Australia and to unite with these women to actively advocate for social change,” Miss Gavin said.

“To receive this scholarship meant that I could study and be immersed in another culture, a unique experience like no other.”

She is the second ACU student to receive the scholarship, following psychology student Nathan Pitt.

She hopes to find employment in a paediatrics, cardiology or oncology ward when she graduates this year but plans to return to university to study midwifery.

Jane Ceolin, ACU’s director of the First Peoples and Equity Pathways Directorate, said she was pleased to see the scholarship delivered to a female student in light of the 2018NAIDOC theme, ‘Because of Her, We Can!’

“Kate was selected to receive the Francis Xavier Conaci scholarship due to her strong academic record as well as her willing contribution of her time to supporting other students at the Weemala Indigenous Higher Education Unit at the ACU Brisbane Campus,” Ms Ceolin said.

“It is fitting that such an inspiring young Aboriginal woman has received the scholarship with the NAIDOC Week theme reflecting the importance of Aboriginal women in our communities and families.

“Kate serves as the ideal role model to her fellow students.”

ACU nursing student Kate Gavin

Honoured: Nursing student Kate Gavin. Photo: ACU


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