Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

D15- 17 October 2002

Roni Ellis Indigenous Study Award 2002: Recipients Announced

Two Indigenous students from the University of Canberra will today be presented with the Department's 2002 Roni Ellis Indigenous Study Award.

Melita Berthaly, an Aboriginal student working towards a Bachelor of Communications: Public Relations; and Jillian Omosigho, a Torres Strait Islander student studying towards a Bachelor of Education, will each be presented with awards of $1,000.

The Roni Ellis Indigenous Study Award is made to the most promising Indigenous students studying the Foundation Program at the University of Canberra. It assists Indigenous students who have come late to tertiary studies, or are improving their qualifications before embarking on a degree.

The award was launched in 2001 in the memory of Roni Ellis, an Indigenous DFAT officer who died of leukaemia in 2000. Roni joined DFAT in 1991, where she managed the promotion of Australia's Indigenous culture and art abroad. She was instrumental in building understanding of Indigenous ways, values and history among her many friends and colleagues in Australia and overseas.

The award, which is presented annually on 17 October - Roni's birthday - is also an incentive for Indigenous students to follow her example to achieve their goals.

Roni's daughter, Nicole Rawson-Harris, will present the awards, together with special guest, Patrick Johnson, a DFAT Indigenous employee on leave to pursue his career as an elite sprint athlete.

At today's ceremony, donations totalling $1,355 will be made to three non-profit groups supporting the education of Indigenous students in the ACT region. They are the Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation; ACT Indigenous Sports Program; and Barnados Australia.

The funds were raised by DFAT's Indigenous Employee Network at a quiz night during the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week 2002.

Inquiries: Tracey Haines, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program, Tel: +61 2 6261 3942