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Lumen Summer 2017 Issue
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Taplin travel fund supports Indigenous education

Yvonne Clark and Emeritus Professor John Taplin

Yvonne Clark and Emeritus Professor John Taplin
Alumnus and Emeritus Professor John Taplin saw first hand the benefits of an international education experience and he was determined that such opportunities would not be denied to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students.

John was Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) from February 2004 to January 2012 and, following his retirement from the University, he established the Taplin Indigenous Bursary to help Close The Gap.

“I became aware of a number of Indigenous study programs offered by universities overseas which could be of interest to our Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander students,” says John.

“Without financial assistance, it is likely that the overwhelming majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff would be unable to undertake these programs.”

John wanted to remove the financial barrier that prevents many from travel but says there is still more to be done in the fight for equality.

“The bursary seeks to remove this financial impediment and thereby allow those selected to be chosen solely on academic merit,” he says.

“Ultimately, I hope that, with the aid of this bursary and through other means, a new generation of Indigenous leaders will emerge who can demonstrate to the rest of the world that Australia is, in every sense, a multicultural country of equal opportunity.”

Yvonne Clark was awarded a Taplin grant in 2014 to assist with travel costs to attend the International Congress of Applied Psychology (ICAP) in Paris. She is a lecturer in the School of Psychology and a current PhD candidate.

Yvonne presented three papers at the conference on mental health issues concerning Indigenous Australians.

“I was able to provide and share information about Australian Indigenous issues and positive initiatives in an overseas context,” says Yvonne.

“Many international delegates don’t know anything about Australian Aboriginal people, or have negative representations.”

A full-time student at the time, Yvonne would not have been able to attend the conference without the grant.

“I was grateful for the opportunity and through my attendance I was able to learn about psychological initiatives from other cultures, appreciate our own initiatives and gain professional development as a psychologist.”

Yvonne says she hopes her experience will inspire other Indigenous people with travel aspirations.

“I hope my achievements will enable me to serve as a role model. It was a dream to travel overseas as a child and no-one in my family had ever travelled so widely. I hope this shows that it is within many people’s reach to travel overseas if they want to pursue it.”

The Taplin name has long been associated with helping Indigenous South Australians. Professor Taplin’s great grandfather, Rev George Taplin lived and worked with the Ngarrindjeri people at Raukkan on the shores of Lake Alexandrina from 1860 until his death in 1879.

John sees the bursary as a way to recognise the pioneering work of his family.

“Through his close association with this Indigenous community during a critical period, he provided some of the earliest ethnographic and linguistic insights into Aboriginal life in Australia,” says John.

“George Taplin was also a courageous advocate for and on behalf of the Ngarrindjeri people during the early colonial years. He established a church and a school at Raukkan, and taught Indigenous people skills which helped them adapt to the new economic environment that was being introduced by the South Australian Government.”

Since the introduction of the Bursary in 2013, over 25 Indigenous staff and students have received grants of up to $5000 to travel overseas to further their education and training.

Story by Renée Capps


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