Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

D18  - 17 October 2005 

Roni Ellis Indigenous Study Awards 2005

The Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Michael L'Estrange will today present two students from the University of Canberra with the Department's prestigious 2005 Roni Ellis Indigenous Study Award.

The recipients are Nathan George, a young Aboriginal man from Wellington, NSW, who is studying a Bachelor of Education degree and Paul Schmider, a Torres Strait Islander, who is undertaking a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) degree. Each awardee receives a bursary of $1,000.

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

The awards were launched in 2001 in the memory of Roni Ellis, an Indigenous DFAT employee 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 culture and history among her many friends and colleagues in Australia and overseas.

Five awards have been made previously to Indigenous students from the University of Canberra. Former recipients are Andrew Horne (2001), from Queanbeyan, NSW; Melita Berthaly (2002), from Coonamble, NSW; Jillian Omosigho (2002), from Thursday Island, Torres Strait; Daphne Bennell (2003), from Albany, WA; and Mark Halloran (2003) from Tumut, NSW, and Tarran Backhus (2004) from Amaroo, ACT and Jessica Wanganeen (2004) from Kambah, ACT.

At today's ceremony, donations totaling $1,800 will also be made to three Indigenous sporting organizations that support young Indigenous people. They are: W hISPers Softball Club, for junior teams uniforms; an Indigenous Women's touch football team, to assist with registration and to increase participation; and the Aboriginal Corporation for Sporting and Recreational Activities (ACSRA) - Boomanulla Oval, to purchase hurdles for the Little Athletics program.

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 2005.

Contacts:  Matt Anderson, (02) 6261 1555