Home' InDaily : February 25th 2010 Contents 6 | Vol 21 No 1 February 2010
work here, is absolutely fabulous,"
Mr Wilson told Flinders Journal.
"In terms of experience and the
qualifications of its staff, Yunggorendi
is perhaps the best unit of its kind
Mr Wilson said Yunggorendi's role
continues to increase, particularly
through project work with Aboriginal
communities in the southern regions of
Adelaide, often in collaboration with
government departments such as the
Department of Education and
As he prepares for retirement, Mr Wilson is
full of praise for Flinders staff at all levels.
"Yunggorendi has played a major part in
attracting students to Flinders and giving
them support, but it's the quality of the
people across the University that we link
up with that plays a major role in the
success of Indigenous students," he said.
"We've come a long way since the 1970s. I
think more Indigenous kids can now
understand the point that they can have
decent education, and that will open up
the doors for you."
Music the right medicine for Cambodian orphans
Teaching Christmas carols to Cambodian
orphans initially earned Pat Witcombe
the nickname of "Jingle Bells", but after
he showed his prowess with a donated
Dutch conjuring set, his name (in Khmer)
became "Mr Magic".
Pat, who is a Senior Tutor at University
Hall, Flinders' on-campus student
Turning Indigenous education around
Mr Pat Witcombe
Mr Bevin Wilson
residence, spent his summer break in
Cambodia as a volunteer at the New Hope
Village, an orphanage for children with HIV/
AIDS. He took with him a $1000 donation
from Flinders Housing and its caterers,
Scolarest Australia. The money will buy
musical instruments to support the music
programs at both New Hope and Geraldine
Cox's Sunrise Children's Orphanage near
Phnom Penh, which Pat also visited.
It was a talk given to students at University
Hall by Geraldine Cox several years ago
that inspired Pat's interest in Cambodia.
Pat helped to kick-start New
Hope's music program by
playing and teaching songs to
the 180 children; he also
worked on setting up a
computer database that will
be vital in monitoring the
children's health and
determining appropriate doses
of retroviral HIV drugs.
In addition to providing a home and
schooling for the orphaned children,
New Hope supports some 800 children
with HIV/AIDs still living in the
community with their families.
The non-government organization
(NGO) gives the families medicine
and food, and also supplies a medical
carer who visits twice a week to
Pat visited some of the families on the
back of a scooter, and found the poverty
and living conditions a sobering
experience: "Ironically, the HIV-positive
kids were often the healthiest, because
of the food and support from the NGO."
Christmas in the village is celebrated as
a surrogate, common birthday for the
children. Festivities featured individual
presents for each child, a bonfire with
toasted marshmallows and a program of
carols that climaxed with a rousing
version of Jingle Bells.
"It was a marvellous experience, and it
was really hard to leave the kids," Pat said.
When Bevin Wilson went to teach at
Glossop High in the Riverland in the
1970s, he was one of handful of
Indigenous teachers in South Australia. It
was a time when Indigenous students
who completed Year 12 were few and far
between, and university graduates were
This year, some 150 Indigenous students
are enrolled in Flinders University
undergraduate courses: they have a high
likelihood of academic success, and those
who graduate are almost certain to find
It's a transformation Mr Wilson is proud
to have been part of. During three
separate stints at Yunggorendi First
Nations Centre for Higher Education and
Research over the past 20 years, he has
worked in administrative and teaching
roles as well as in student support and
recruitment. During that time, he says he
has seen the resources and capacity of
Yunggorendi increase steadily.
Mr Wilson said that the unit has
expanded from its initial role of providing
academic and practical support for
Indigenous students to be involved in
teaching, research and community
His own career has been diverse: as well
as working for the State's other two
universities in an Indigenous support role,
he has worked in clinical case
management of Indigenous patients for
health services in the southern suburbs.
"I've been around the place in the
university and government sectors, but I
have to tell you that Flinders, because of
its community feel and the people who
Links Archive February 24th 2010 February 26th 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page