A turbulent start to 2020 hit like an unrelenting tsunami, with Country Burning, now dispossessed, dying and injured creatures aplenty, a global pandemic and isolation. The wave of crisis pushed to the surface many emotions and reactions that left us all wading through unfamiliar waters. As a unit of dedicated staff, Team WIC, sought to rummage through the debris to identify, nurture and grow the seeds of opportunity.
Agile in our response to assist students to navigate the tides of the pandemic and the rip current that moved them to the online delivery world - has been a huge triumph. Ensuring our students were engaged and supported through the transition to online delivery saw us engage in conversations with 96% of our students via WIC’s ‘call campaign’. We listened and we heard, we provided the co-ordinates to each individual student who needed some navigation through the storm(s). The team went above and beyond and the tangible supports included over $4,000 in food and petrol vouchers, laptop hire, computer hardware purchases, over $80k in Scholarships awarded and numerous service referrals (to list just a few). However, the impact of the conversations and motivational yarns shared between staff and our students are only measurable by the relationships formed, feedback provided and most obvious the academic outcomes of Autumn 2020.
The students by large have dug deep and showed, yet again, their resilience and determination – with our Indigenous Tailored Academic program engaging the highest number of students ever recorded with 149 students signing up to the academic tutoring program and 5448 hours of one on one tutoring utilised in the Autumn session. Our interim student Academic results for Autumn 2020, shines the light on agility, opportunity and excellence. As we discovered our Indigenous students rode the waves and passed 90.35% of all subjects they were enrolled in. They have illuminated their grit, resilience and commitment to their educational journey as 37.2% of all subjects enrolled in by our students were awarded a Distinction or High Distinction.
As we head into Spring session, we need to believe, that the water’s turbulence is more manageable and our heads are more securely above the water – not because we hope that the crisis’ have ended or that we feel next session will be more surrendering but because we know we have all ridden the earlier wave set of 2020 and whatever is next - will also pass.
To my staff – You should be proud of your commitment to our students. I am proud of you. I am proud to see you invested in your responsibilities as Blackfellas and your passion to give back is beyond your pay cheques. Your connection with the physical space and your respect and honour to the history of how Woolyungah Indigenous Centre became a fixture on UOW campus, is testimony to your unwavering desire for truth-telling, education and your overall respect for Culture.
To our students – Go you! Proud is an understatement. You have smashed first session. Let us harvest the seeds that are washed our way and relish in the opportunities produced – and hold on to each other for the bloody ride – whilst social distancing of course.