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Rockhampton Girls Grammar students report back on USYD's Gadalung Program


Year 11 student Sophie and Year 12 student Mackenzie sit underneath a tree at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School
Year 11 student Sophie and Year 12 student Mackenzie who attended a University of Sydney program in December 2022 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from around the country. Photo: Ellouise Bailey

Rockhampton Girls Grammar School Year 11 student Sophie and Year 12 student Mackenzie attended the University of Sydney’s Gadalung Program from December 5 - 9, 2022.


The Gadalung Program was a week-long residential program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from schools around the country in Years 11 -12, who wanted to explore their future at university.


This program gave students an opportunity to experience university life, live on-campus in a college, explore the facilities, and meet current university students.


Year 11 student and Karingbal woman Sophie said the program was a "big eye-opener" in terms of learning about opportunities available to Indigenous students through the University of Sydney.


Year 11 student and Karingbal woman Sophie in Sydney while attending the Gadalung Program through the University of Sydney. Sophie holds a traditional Club used for both hunting and warfare. Photo: supplied

"The program told us about programs, scholarships we could go for, different opportunities we could have if we chose to go there.


"Over the five days we made our way to different parts of the university and the campus. It was that big we only explored 20% of it.


"The campus is so nice - it looked like something out of Harry Potter," she said.



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from around Australia who attended the Gadalung Program at the University of Sydney in December 2022. Photo: supplied

Year 12 student and Kuku-Yalanji woman Mackenzie explained the students were also introduced to some unique parts of the campus, such as a graffiti tunnel students could use to express their ideas or frustrations in a creative way.


"It gave them a channeled space where they could write their protests and graffiti - just so that they're not ruining the hundreds of years' old buildings.


Mackenzie said one of the highlights of the program was hearing from Sydney based Kamilaroi rap artist, Kobie Dee.


"He grew up in Sydney in a bad environment and that influenced him into a certain lifestyle that wasn't necessarily healthy.


Year 12 student and Kuku-Yalanji woman Mackenzie (second from the left) said the program was a fantastic opportunity to make new friends from around the country. Photo: supplied


"He shared his story and told us that there is a way out of that kind of life and that there's better choices to be made.


Sophie said the program was a "great opportunity to make friends" and she loved being able to meet new people from all around Australia.


Mackenzie said the students had even made a group chat and were still in contact online with one another.


The program also gave her the opportunity to connect with mentors at the campus who could help her write an early application into uni.


Sophie said, "I would 100% recommend this program to anyone who is thinking of going to university. I will be applying for the Galalung Program in 2023."


A collection of images taken by Mackenzie during her stay at the University of Sydney in December 2022.


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