Inspiring First Nations people to become teachers is a major ambition of teaching student Carmel Debel, a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Source: ACU.
Carmel is completing her final year of a teaching degree as part of the Faculty of Education’s “Away from Base” program at Australian Catholic University.
The program supports First Nations students from regional and remote areas to study for a Bachelor of Education (Primary).
More than 600 First Nations students have graduated from the program, with about 80 per cent of students successfully graduating. Away from Base graduates have a 100 per cent employment rate.
Carmel, a Tjungundji woman of Old Mapoon and Kaurareg of Prince of Wales Island in the Torres Strait said flying to Sydney to attend the university’s intensive residential was “terrifying”.
Learning with other First Nations people with similar backgrounds and understanding helped her to feel more comfortable about giving university a shot. Working with the assistance of tutor Anne Major, she sharpened her literacy and discovered how to write in an academic format. She loves everything about her chosen career and hopes to inspire other First Nations children.
“Our children need to see our people within the educational system,” Carmel said.
ACU’s program considers a First Nations perspective in all its programming and, when not impacted by the pandemic, has included corrobborees and smoking ceremonies, spiritual and leadership tours, NAIDOC activities and visits to a First Nations’ school in Sydney's Redfern.
The program is supported by ACU’s higher education support unit, Yalbalinga, which is a Kamilari word meaning "place of learning". Tutorial support for students is offered in face-to-face, online or group tuition sessions, or a combination of delivery modes.