Seven Aboriginal students at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Dubbo are the recipients of generous accommodation grants aimed at helping them continue their tertiary education.
Each student has received a $10,000 grant through a program piloted by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO).
The grants are being administered by CSU. It will pay the students’ rent until the money runs out and while they remain enrolled. The program takes in three universities—CSU in Dubbo, the University of New England in Armidale and the University of Technology in Sydney.
Dean of students at CSU, Professor Julia Coyle, said the program was a step in the right direction to improving retention rates for existing Aboriginal students who were at risk of dropping out of university due to housing stress.
Campus development manager at CSU in Dubbo Bart Sykes was instrumental in ensuring that the university was selected to participate in the pilot program.
"Housing affordability is a massive concern for our Indigenous students in Dubbo and plays a major factor in their ability to maintain their enrolment at university," he said.
AHO chief executive Shane Hamilton said a key element of the program was “effectively supporting Aboriginal students in a culturally-appropriate way”. "Together with CSU we aim to assist Aboriginal students overcome financial and accommodation barriers that prevent them from applying to study at university, or to maintain their enrolment over the course of their studies,” he said.
In 2015 CSU had 40,303 students “across all of its campuses and modes of study” with 2.2 per cent of them identifying as Indigenous. At CSU in Dubbo, 20 per cent of on-campus students identified as Indigenous.
An official presentation of the grants will take place at CSU in Dubbo on Tuesday. Recipients are Alisha Agland, Krystal Haycock, Casey Dodd, Cody Jones, Jason Chatfield, Monique Rayment and Frankie Rutherford.