GFL Australia scholarships realise Aboriginal students potential
Two Gold Fields Aboriginal men have recently completed university degrees off the back of their outstanding academic achievements.
Travis Germain and Braydon Graham will have the best possible start to their careers thanks to the Gold Fields Australia Foundation.
Every year for the past 10 years, the Gold Fields Australia Foundation has awarded a $6000 scholarship for the duration of the degree under the Aboriginal Tertiary Scholarship Program to give bright Aboriginal students a head start.
Goldfields-born and bred Mr Graham hopes to return to the region and restore the integrity of the land from the environmental impact of mining after graduating with a Bachelor of Science from the University of WA.
He attended North Kalgoorlie Primary School, and grew up with his family from the Ngadju people.
Mr Graham said he often spent time in Norseman and Esperance where he had learnt valuable Aboriginal and Ngadju history.
“I gained real cultural and environmental knowledge from my grandfather, Sonny Graham, and my uncles and aunties,” Mr Graham said.
He said he had had to overcome hurdles while completing his degree, including receiving no government funding.
“I relied on the generosity of Goldfields companies who were prepared to sponsor me on the basis of my solid school results,” he said.
“I also had outstanding mentors who gave me strong support by calling me to see how I was going and meeting me to discuss my academic and life progress.”
Gold Fields executive vice-president Australasia Stuart Mathews said the success rate of the program was testament to the calibre of the people that had been awarded scholarships and the importance of providing them with ongoing support and mentorship throughout their studies.
“We are pleased that the indigenous scholarship program, which provides members of our host communities with assistance to access world-class tertiary education facilities in Perth, has been so successful,” he said.
Scholarship program co-ordinator Phillip Paioff said the scholarships recognised the recipients’ outstanding academic performance.
“I think the importance of the scholarship is that it is recognition that they have done well in their schools and presented well,” he said.
“It also reinforces the fact that there are other people that believe in them.”
Mr Graham described the scholarship as a “support system” which “reduced the pressure associated with living away from family”.
With a cadetship at Rio Tinto under his belt, Mr Graham hopes to find employment back in the Goldfields.
Mr Germain, who has completed his Masters of Professional Engineering, also at UWA, after a successful six-year academic journey, has been offered a position with BHP in Port Hedland, where he will focus on rail engineering.
“My dream has always been to get a degree and create job opportunities and meaningful employment for people in Kalgoorlie,” Mr Graham said.
“My main focus is environmental rehab and restoring the land from the mining industry.”
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