Scholarship plan to benefit South Sea Islander communities

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Vanuatu Government has welcomed a plan to give South Sea Islanders an opportunity to gain a tertiary qualification in Bundaberg.

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt, former member for Hinkler Brian Courtice, Central Queensland University, the South Sea Islander Action Group and the Rotary Club of Bundaberg East have joined forces to give back to the people who helped make Bundaberg what it is today.

Under the plan, initiated by Mr Courtice, Vanuatu residents will be able to apply for nursing and teaching scholarships. Discussions are underway to formally register the scholarships as a Rotary Australia World Community Service.

Mr Courtice, owner of the Sunnyside sugar plantation and heritage-listed burial site, said he first approached Mr Pitt with his proposal in September.

“Mr Pitt, who has spent much of his working life in the cane industry, had spoken in Federal Parliament about the need for greater recognition of Australian South Sea Islanders and I knew he’d be supportive,” Mr Courtice said.

“Mr Pitt has been instrumental in gaining support from the Vanuatu Minister for Education and Training.

“These scholarships will assist the Vanuatu Government to provide their people with essential services.”

CQU Dean, School of Education and the Arts, Helen Huntly said the Bundaberg region owed much to the labour of South Sea Islanders.

“With both its CQU campus and very welcoming Australian South Sea Islander population, Bundaberg is ideally placed to assist young people, who wish to gain an education to return home and contribute to the health, education and social needs of their communities,” Professor Huntly said.    

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814       

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