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As part of Reconcilation Week, UNSW’s Shalom College has won a community award recognising its contribution to the support and encouragement of Indigenous tertiary students.

The Eastern Region Local Government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum has acknowledged the Shalom Gamarada Scholarship Program, as part of the annual Pauline McLeod Awards for Reconciliation.

Shalom Gamarada aims to help close the gap in Indigenous education. So far 70 Indigenous students at UNSW have been helped by the scholarship, which allows them to live and receive academic support while living on campus at Shalom College. This helps students in many ways, including financially and by saving time on commuting.

Current Indigenous scholar, Jessica Clark, secretly nominated the College for the award, which recognises local people and organisations for their work towards reconciliation.

“I’m very happy that Shalom won this award given all the work that is done so that we can live here,” said Jessica. “The impact of this on my education, and that of many others, cannot be emphasised enough.”

Head of Shalom College Dr Hilton Immerman said the win recognises the efforts of all students in the College: “We are delighted to have received this award and feel certain that it is the support our students give each other and the effort and attitude of all our residents, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, which fosters our warm and productive environment.  I’m very grateful to Jessica for thinking of us in this way.”

Indigenous students commonly suffer from serious educational and socio-economic disadvantage and very high drop-out rates from universities. But for five years now Shalom Gamarada students have achieved a pass rate of over 90%, which is significantly higher than the prevailing pass rate of non-Indigenous Australian students in long-haul courses like Medicine and Law.

The Eastern Region Local Government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum includes the councils of the City of Sydney, Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick, Leichhardt and Botany.