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QATSIF scholarships open, encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to lead the way

Proud speaker: Master of ceremonies Mikayla Adams-Houston from Lourdes Hill College at the graduation ceremony.

BUILDING tomorrow’s leaders – the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation has enjoyed great success in recent years and has just opened its 11th round of scholarships.

The foundation supports Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in their completion of Years 11 and 12.

QATSIF secretariat director Michael Nayler said last year the foundation took on 1416 new graduates with about 300 Catholic school students.

Mr Nayler, who has served as principal of a number of Catholic schools, said this year QATSIF was expecting its scholarship program to grow to about 1500 students. 

“We’re trying our hardest to get out to all schools in Queensland and make sure that every school’s on board and part of it,” he said.

The scholarships were certainly showing results, too.

“We had 185 badged student leaders and around the state we’ve got 20 school captains and 12 vice-captains, so that’s an incredible achievement,” Mr Nayler said.

“Our motto is ‘building tomorrow’s leaders’ – we’re seeing that happening, we’re seeing young people standing up.”

Since the graduation ceremonies earlier this year, including one held at Australian Catholic University McAuley Campus, Banyo, QATSIF students have seen greater and greater success.

QATSIF supported the highest-achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Queensland over three of the past four years, Mr Nayler said.

And there was also great success in the arts, including from Mount St Bernard, Herberton, where a student’s artwork was printed on special mugs.

Singing stars: The “Brigidine Sistas”, from Brigidine College, Indooroopilly, singing the beautiful Torres Strait Islander hymn Baba Waiar at the QATSIF USQ event.

“It was lovely … we sent about six mugs up to her and her family as well too, so they could share them around the family,” Mr Nayler said. 

“She was so proud of her achievement.”

Mr Nayler said two of the young people in the QATSIF art competition were recently offered money for their works from a couple of big businesses in Brisbane.

“They saw the artwork there and were keen to buy it for their walls in their big CBD offices,” he said.

“It’s just wonderful for those young people to have that little pat on the back and have their artwork recognised as being outstanding.”

QATSIF is a charitable trust first established in 2009 to ensure any interest from unspent Indigenous wage reparation money is made available to help Indigenous young people.

Across its first 10 years, QATSIF has awarded more than 8700 QATSIF Queensland Certificate of Education scholarships to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders in 300 secondary schools throughout the state.

QATSIF’s patron Aunty Ruth Hegarty, author and Stolen Wages campaigner, encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to make the most of this opportunity which she and other Elders were denied.

“Go forward,” she said.

“Our reward is to see you succeed in whatever profession you choose.

“Our trust is in you, the very future of giving of yourselves to be a beacon of hope for future scholars.”

Under the QCE scholarship program, QATSIF provides two-year scholarship funding to help students gain their QCE across Years 11 and 12.

Year 10 and 11 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can apply for a 2020 QATSIF QCE Scholarship through their schools.

Mr Nayler encouraged any eligible families to have a chat with their school about applying for a QATSIF scholarship.

They were open until 23 August, he said.

“We rely on schools to put in the applications, but parents and students need to fill in an applicant’s declaration as part of it,” Mr Nayler said. 

“We tend to send them out before the break so that boarding school students – and we’ve got a lot of Catholic boarding schools – that those young people can take it home over this holiday.

“So I’m hoping a lot of those have taken it home and are getting it filled out as we speak. 

“If not there’s still plenty of time next term to get a scholarship application and get it filled in.”

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