Aboriginal Education Conference 1986 (UON)

1986 1023-24 beyond school conference poster

“Beyond School: Increasing Opportunities for Aboriginal People in Post-Secondary Education.”

This was the title given to a conference that was planned and held at The University of Newcastle, Australia in October 1986.

This work is conducted in memory and respectfully honours the First Australian People, the Aboriginal People of this land.

Organised by Ms Margaret Henry (Senior Lecturer in History at UoN), in conjunction with Mr John Heath (Lecturer in Aboriginal Studies at UoN), the conference saw over 100 Aboriginal Delegates, mainly from throughout NSW & the Hunter Valley, come together to discuss opportunities available to Indigenous school leavers and those seeking to further their education.

Held over two days (23rd & 24th October) the conference was a mixture of lectures, workshops and site visits to Aboriginal institutions both on campus at UoN and off campus in the community.

Aboriginal Studies Graduates. May 2000

The conference ran from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm both day. Topics discussed included: Education opportunities beyond school, the need for more Aboriginal professionals. Listen to conference recordings below. The speakers were all Aboriginal leaders in Education in their communities.

Thursday, 23rd October – Chairman: Dr Bill Jonas

(WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners are advised that the following audio recordings may contain voices of people who have died.)

9:45 am – Welcome: Professor Don George, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Newcastle, Australia

10:00 am – ‘Beyond School’ – Professor Eric Wilmott, Head of School of Education at James Cook University.

2:00 pm – ‘Opportunity in Diversity: The Aboriginal Community College, Adelaide’ – Mrs Lillian Holt, Deputy Principle of the Aboriginal Community College in Adelaide.

2:30 pm – ‘The ASTEC Key Centre’ – Ms Veronica Arbon, Lecturer in Aboriginal Studies, the Aboriginal Studies and Education Centre (ASTEC), South Australia College of Advanced Education. (Veronica pulled out of the conference at the last minuet, so Sonny Flynn filled in and presented a paper on Aboriginal Education.)

3:30 pm – ‘The Need For Aboriginal Professionals’ – Dr Eve Fesl, Linguist and Director of the Aboriginal Centre at Monash University

4:00 pm – ‘The Monash Orientation Scheme’ – Mr Isaac Brown, Director of the Monash Orientation Scheme for Aborigines

Friday 24th October – Chairman: Dr Bill Jonas

9:45am – Welcome: Professor John Hamilton, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Newcastle, Australia

10:00am – Mr Bob Morgan, President of N.S.W. Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

10:40am – Mr Barry Thorne, Acting Co-ordinator of the Aboriginal Education Unite, TAFE, Sydney

2:00pm – Mr Errol West, Chairman, National Aboriginal Education Committee, Canberra. (No recording has been found of Errol)

4:00 – Reflections, Awabakal Tribute, & Final Farewell

Conference Program
Conference Program

In addition to the lectures the conference also organised workshops, and other activities both in and outside of the University, such as dinner at the Awabakal Aboriginal Co-operative, a visit to the Aboriginal Enclave at Newcastle College of Advanced Education. In addition there were also question and answer panels.

It was noted at the conference that in the School of Medicine at The University of Newcastle, they had the highest number of Indigenous undergraduates in the school, and had graduates who had become quite successful in the medical field. Two notable graduates are:

Dr Sandra Eades: a Noongar physician, researcher, & Professor who was the first Aboriginal medical practitioner to be awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy in 2003. She was also  recognized as the NSW Woman of the Year for 2006.

Dr Louis Peachey: a Girimay man who is the Senior Medical Officer at the Atherton District Hospital, where he works as a Rural Generalist. He is also the founding President of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association.

Dr Sandra Eades & Dr Louis Peachey on their graduation day from the School of Medicine at UoN. Saturday 19th May 1990.


Conference Attendee List

Conference Advertisement

Wollotuka Newsletter Report

Conference Report

Conference Recommendations

In loving memory of Helen Margaret Henry, (1931-2015). A much loved and missed Novocastrian Identity who’s reports and papers left behind were invaluable and helped make this report and the Soundcloud files possible. The zeal, energy, belief and passion she invested in not only the people of Newcastle, but Newcastle itself will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace.

Kaye Fisher ~ Undergraduate, Bachelor of Arts

2 thoughts on “Aboriginal Education Conference 1986 (UON)

  1. Pleased to discover this work. Especially the valediction to Margaret Henry… a great supporter of the Goori fight for justice. JH

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