Unleashing indigenous students' potential

Indigenous Australians will have more chances than ever to study overseas, as the Australian and British governments pledged almost half a million dollars to support indigenous education overseas.

The federal government yesterday announced $200,000 for the Charlie Perkins Scholarship to support Aboriginal people who choose to further their studies overseas.

Britain also said it will double its current contribution to £150,000 ($AU240,000) over three years.

Minister for Tertiary Education Chris Evans said these scholarships were a step in the right direction to help indigenous education.

''This has been a great story of unleashing the potential of indigenous people in this country,'' he said.

Each scholarship is valued at over $53,000 per year and includes all tuition fees and living expenses.


Australian National University graduate Kyle Turner is one of three scholarship recipients this year.

He will undertake a doctor of philosophy in public health at Jesus College at Oxford University.

The other recipients include University of Melbourne's Lilly Brown, who will study a master of philosophy at Cambridge, while Griffith University's Krystal Lockwood will undertake a master of science at Oxford.

Mr Turner, 27, studied archaeology and epidemiology at ANU, after moving from south-east Queensland. He worked as a senior epidemiologist and lead researcher for the Queensland government's Deadly Ears program, which works to reduce ear disease in indigenous children.

Mr Turner said he was ecstatic to be able to further his education like Perkins, the first indigenous Australian to graduate from university. ''Charlie Perkins is a huge inspiration and one my heroes,'' he said.

''I'm honoured to have a scholarship and complete a degree in his name.''

Mr Turner is of the Wiradjuri tribe from central west NSW, but moved to south-east Queensland at an early age. He said he wanted to focus his studies on the health and identities of indigenous children.

''There's a relationship between the two,'' he said.

''If you are weak in your identity, you'll be weak in your health.''

Mr Turner was excited by the prospect of studying at Oxford's department of public health.

''The methodology at Oxford is taught by the World Health Organisation … it's the best in the world.''

After he finishes his PhD, he plans to return to his family in Queensland and work with Aboriginal children in urban environments.

''Whatever I learn from Oxford would be great to apply back home,'' he said.