Australian Prime Minister Recognises the Contribution of the Aurora Education Foundation in Supporting Overseas Indigenous Australian Scholars


Ten years ago, the Australian government launched the ‘Closing the Gap’ initiative which seeks to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in all aspects of life and reduce socio-economic disparities. On 12 February 2018, Australia’s Prime Minister, The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, presented the 10th annual Closing the Gap Report to the Australian House of Representatives. In the Prime Minister’s address, he noted the contribution of the Aurora Education Foundation in supporting Indigenous scholars at some of the world’s leading universities, including five currently studying at Cambridge.

A not-for-profit organisation, Aurora is dedicated to encouraging and supporting educational and professional attainment in academia among Indigenous people. St. Edmund’s has worked collaboratively with Aurora to support their programme since it began in conjunction with Dr Misty Jenkins, a former Fellow at the College and the first Indigenous Australian to have attended Cambridge and Oxford as a postdoctoral researcher.

A beneficiary of the programme is current St. Edmund’s student, Olivia Slater, who studied for an MPhil in Social Anthropology in 2016-17, supported by a Charlie Perkins Trust Scholarship. Olivia is now a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education, supported by a second Charlie Perkins Trust Scholarship and her research continues on the rise of Indigenous performances as public displays of self-determination.

Olivia enrolled at university as a mature age student, and also a parent, after leaving secondary school at 15. She first engaged with Aurora in 2015 as a member of the Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour, which introduced her to Dr Judith Bunbury, Senior Tutor and St Edmund’s College. Olivia also met her future MPhil supervisor, Dr Rupert Stasch. Through these early meetings Olivia gained the confidence to apply for graduate study at Cambridge, where she has subsequently thrived.

The Prime Minister’s recognition of overseas Indigenous scholars’ outstanding achievement is a reminder that as Australia “embraces the diverse, resilient, and powerful cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians…” it will build a stronger, more cohesive country for its citizens. St. Edmund’s is proud to support Aurora and the commendable work it does to help promising Indigenous scholars achieve their educational and professional goals and act as leaders for positive change in their communities and beyond.

Photo: Jean-Luc Benazet, Cambridge Photography