10 August 2010

The creator of a Homework Centre at UQ's Ipswich campus designed to help Indigenous school students with their studies has been recognised with a Dadjeen Award for Services to Indigenous Education.

Judith Dale, the senior support officer with UQ's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (ATSIS) Unit, said she established the Centre three years ago to help Indigenous primary and secondary school students with their homework. Ms Dale spreads her time between three of UQ's four campuses – at St Lucia, Gatton and Ipswich.

"There was and still is a pressing need for the Centre because many families do not have access to computers at home or parents and caregivers do not have the educational levels to be able to assist students," she said.

The Centre was attended by some non-Indigenous students as Indigenous students could “bring a friend”, Ms Dale said.

Acting ATSISU Head Professor Ian Lilley said: "Judy worked extremely hard to establish the Homework Centre and to ensure that it kept going over the long term."

"Attracting and keeping Indigenous kids is one of higher education's biggest challenges. A centre which helps bridge the gap between high school and uni in a way that makes uni a positive and culturally safe place is a vital step in the right direction. We are all so proud of Judy's achievement."

Ms Dale said the Centre, supported by UQ's Equity Office and community organisation Milperra Without Borders, operated from 3.30pm until 5.30pm each Monday and was attended by an average of 10 students.

"We have a UQ student/tutor to help the kids as well as a team of community volunteers," Ms Dale said.

The Centre, based in a resource room in the UQ Boilerhouse Community Engagement Centre at the Ipswich campus, had received positive feedback from local schools, parents and the students themselves, Ms Dale said.

"We're very excited as one of our regulars is planning on studying nursing at UQ next year," Ms Dale said.

Ms Dale received a medallion as part of the Dadjeen – the Ugarapul word for "sister" – Award at a special luncheon held at a Raceview restaurant on July 23 this year.

Dadjeen Awards recognise the accomplishments of Indigenous women of Ipswich and honour those women within the community who have enhanced the lives of Indigenous people.

The Awards are part of celebrations of 150 years since Ipswich became a municipality.

Media: Shirley Glaister at UQ Communications (3365 2802) or ATSIS Unit reception on 3365 6699.