The University of Notre Dame Australia welcomed the new Notre Dame Indigenous Students Society (NDISS). The founding committee is made up of a group of young Indigenous students who are studying to be the next generation of First Nation nurses, doctors, journalists, educators, lawyers and politicians.
“The diversity of our committee members is what makes us such a great team, as we all come from different academic backgrounds and bring our own unique flair to the society,” says NDISS President, Eelemarni Close-Brown, who is studying Journalism. “Having a committee spread across the University’s different departments will help us connect more with students on both campuses and be leaders for the incoming Indigenous students. I am also privileged to be able to work alongside my little sister Yafalina who is the Vice-President of the society.”
Significantly, the new society became formally affiliated with the University during Reconciliation Week, which Eelemarni considers a time for Australia to listen to the voices of Indigenous people and their ancestors to learn the history of the First People of this country. “I believe that we cannot move forward as a nation unless we hear the stories of those who have came before us, to understand what we truly need as a nation to go forward together and walk side by side in reconciliation,” she says. Being part of NDISS is one way Eelemarni and her peers can help ensure Indigenous voices are heard within the University.
Indigenous Support Officer, Michael Leahy, alongside Indigenous students Brooklyn Vaughan and Taylor Johnstone, initially started the discussion about forming a society to represent the Indigenous student body, and the NDISS hopes to be their voice.
“Our aim as the Notre Dame Indigenous Students Society is to make sure that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student is welcomed, heard and seen during their time here at the University. Our society represents all of us mob having a seat at the table where us First Nations Peoples have historically been excluded. As a society we recognise this society is not a privilege for us but a right as the First Peoples of this country to stand and be proud of who we are and be the next change-makers,” says Eelemarni.
The first formal University event the NDISS will be participating in is Semester 2 Orientation on the Broadway Campus, which commences on Monday 26 July. “That is where we will be introducing the staff and students of the Sydney campuses to our society,” says Eelemarni. “From there we look forward to sharing with the community within and outside of Notre Dame, all of the great things we will be doing over the next year or so as the 2021/22 Indigenous Students Society Committee. We hope to foster a better environment for the Indigenous students at Notre Dame Sydney but also to create opportunities for other students to learn about and understand our culture and sense of community.”
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