Inaugural Aunty Joan Hendriks Leaders scholars announced

Fearlessly unravelling the intergenerational trauma felt by his people is how Aunty Joan Hendriks Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leaders Scholarship recipient Clinton McGoldrick plans to make a difference through education.

Mr McGoldrick and law student Onyinye Nwamadi have been announced as recipients of the life-changing ACU scholarship which provides up to $100,000 to emerging indigenous leaders to support their education and professional careers.

“I am proud that this unique scholarship will support our leaders throughout their lifelong educational journey. They can pursue multiple degrees, create a bespoke mentoring program and access opportunities to expand learning through travel,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Zlatko Skrbis said.

Brisbane’s first Aboriginal Deacon, Mr McGoldrick has commenced a Bachelor of Theology at ACU’s Banyo campus but is already eyeing a PhD that would explore the impact on indigenous culture of European colonisation in Australia. He is also an admired alumnus of ACU.

While conceding European hegemony was for many a delicate subject, Mr McGoldrick sees the pursuit of uncomfortable truth as an important step to understanding trauma and driving meaningful reconciliation.

“I want to establish what this country looked like prior to colonisation so people can realise what they’re missing,” he said. “There’s a lot of intellectuals who can take that knowledge and do good things, to drive that reconciliation and truth telling.

“To pass on that lesson to the next generation of teachers is where the scholarship will help. Having the opportunity to pursue a doctorate, speak that academic language about the indigenous context and relate indigenous problems in a language they understand is motivating and a real honour.”

Ms Nwamadi, or Onyi, as she prefers to be called, was destined to become a citizen of the world. Although born in Sydney, she is a Dauareb woman, connected to that country by her mother, who also has Swedish heritage.

The oldest of five children, her Nigerian father moved to Australia at a time of civil war in the west African nation.

She is immensely proud of both cultures – Onyi cherishes when her mum sings to her in Meriam Mir – and sees a career in international law as the ideal path to serve and honour her ancestry.

“My parents taught me a lot about empathy,” said Onyi, who has commenced a Bachelor of Law and Global Studies at ACU’s North Sydney campus. “I grew up exposed to minorities and people who were affected by the legal system.

“And I’m fascinated by how the world works. This degree will give me the chance to advocate for people and be proactive for positive change.

“I’d like to think I could build my experience overseas and then return to serve in remote communities here.”

The scholarship honours Aunty Joan Hendriks, an ACU alumna and distinguished Ngugi Elder of one of the three clan groups of the Quandamooka people of Moreton Bay, Queensland. Aunty Joan was acknowledged for her innovative spirit, leadership in community and her passion for lifelong learning. She was a constant advocate for the rights and education of Indigenous Australians.

“The scholarship demonstrates the interconnectedness of our university’s values and mission and ACU’s commitment to cultural respect and cultural change,” ACU Director of First Peoples Jane Ceolin said. “It translates ACU’s commitment to action.

“To the inaugural Aunty Joan Hendriks scholars, this scholarship will be life changing, impacting not only their lives but also their families and communities. We look forward to celebrating their journeys ahead.”

 Clinton McGoldrockClinton McGoldrock
Onyinye NwamadiOnyinye Nwamadi

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