Peter Garrett returns to New College
The 2013 Mid-Session Formal Dinner was held on Thursday 18th April. It will be remembered as one of the most memorable functions at New College in recent years. The night had a strong focus on how our community is actively living in ‘service to society’, which of course is one of the elements of the New College mission. It was exciting to have a number of alumni members back in the building along with current collegians and to have so many representatives of the university and Indigenous organizations in attendance.
The evening began with a very moving welcome to country given by the UNSW Faculty of Medicine Elder in Residence, Aunty Ali Golding. The night was made special by the inaugural awarding of the Jared Pritchard Memorial Scholarship and a presentation about a partnership that is developing between New College and the remote community of Bourke. The guest speaker for the evening was The Hon. Peter Garrett AM MP who is the local member for Kingsford Smith and the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth.
New Collegians Makenzie Russell and Tim Curtin delivered a presentation during the dinner sharing how they and a team of other Collegians travelled to Bourke in January to serve children and youth in the town, particularly the indigenous community. The purpose of the trip was for New Collegians to spend a week working with the Bourke Police & Citizens Youth Club assisting with the children’s holiday program. Aunty Ali Golding and Rebecca Harcourt went with the New Collegians on the trip and were vital members of the team.
The trip has helped to established a relationship between New College and the community of Bourke. It has also enhanced New College’s relationship with Nuru Gilli. With the support and encouragement of the Master, Professor Cairney, New Collegians are now in the process of discussing the logistics of a second trip, with the possibility of it taking place in the mid-year break. Professor Cairney announced during the dinner that New College will be donating an annual prize to each school in Bourke, to encourage the children and youth of the town in their educational development. The trip to Bourke was a wonderful experience for the team members and importantly brought much joy to the children and youth they were serving. Read the full story.
Mr Garret was very pleased to be invited to the Formal Dinner as guest speaker. He has been a long time advocate for Indigenous Australians. Of course, before he was a politician Mr Garrett was the lead singer of the rock band Midnight Oil. Though the College had a guitar and microphone on standby, Mr Garrett politely declined an impromptu performance leaving it to Collegians Varvara Efremova, Lily Xu and Vanessa Hu to provide musical entertainment on the night.
Some alumni will know that this was not Mr Garrett’s first encounter with New College. The now Deputy Chairman of the Board, Mr Stephen Hodgkinson, was a Collegian in 1977 and remembers when the unknown band Midnight Oil headlined at the Regent Hotel down the road in Kensington. Mr Garrett confirmed that on that night his band came back to New College to play a set in the courtyard. That wasn’t the last time New Collegians had an exclusive concert by ‘The Oils’. At the beginning of his speech Mr Garrett related how his band had also played on the 1978 New College Harbour Cruise.
Moving on to serious business, Mr Garrett outlined how he and the government are trying to improve the quality of school education across Australia and implement recommendations from the Gonski report. Mr Garrett stressed that as a nation, Australia must invest more in education so that we do not fall behind the standards being achieved in other developed and developing countries. Mr Garrett spoke very well and provided examples of how the Government has invested in helping Indigenous children to succeed at school.
Collegians were given the chance to question the Minster for half an hour after his speech. They asked impressive and detailed questions about the Government’s education policy. The evening was set against the backdrop of the government having just announced they would partly fund the Gonski reforms by cutting back future funding to the university sector. Mr Garrett’s speech and willingness to answer so many questions was appreciated by the New College community. It was obvious to those in attendance that Mr Garrett is a man passionate about improving education in Australia.
The Jared Pritchard Memorial Scholarship is awarded for the first time
During the Dinner Nadia Perera was announced as the first recipient of the Jared Pritchard Memorial Scholarship, which was presented by Jared’s mother, Mrs Julie Pritchard. Now in her third year of residence at New College, Nadia has made many contributions to New through the creative and performing arts, all of which have contributed positively to college life.
Nadia has helped to organise art exhibitions, design sets, promotional material and programs for New College theatrical productions and helped New win the award for ‘Best-Looking Chariot’ in an Inter-College Chariot Race! She painted four entries for the CultureSoc Art Exhibition in 2012, one of which received a prize. Nadia has also managed to achieve excellent results as a medicine student along the way.
The evening was a wonderful coalescence of New College activities that have a focus on ‘service to society’.