University of Tasmania Aboriginal student engagement officer, Brendan Murray, has shared his personal journey in the hope he can help and inspire others - Aboriginal or not - to never stop learning.
Based at the Cradle Coast Campus, Riawunna Centre, Brendan has recently delivered two inspiring lectures on the North-West Coast as part of the University of Tasmania’s Aboriginal Lecture Series, a program of presentations, launches and yarns celebrating the diversity of Aboriginality.
The lectures focused on the transformative power of education, culture, and resilience in the context of contemporary Tasmania.
“I’m sharing my life story to help Aboriginal children get the best education outcomes out of life and bring about positive change on the North-West Coast.’’ said Brendan.
Brendan is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts with the University of Tasmania with plans of becoming an historian and is employed by the University as an Aboriginal Student engagement officer with the Riawunna Centre.
Mr Murray shared his personal journey of growing up on Tasmania’s North-West Coast, overcoming racism, violence, and illiteracy, with Advocate Newspaper journalist Meg Powell.
Brendan was 26 years' old by the time he realised he couldn't read. He was trying to fill out a job application but could only write his own name. He is now the first person in his family to attend university.
He said as devastating as that moment was, it was a major turning point in his life, helping his launch into a stable career and, at 52 years' old, gaining admission to university.
He said many Aboriginal university students were like him, starting study in their 40s, and 50s, the first in their family to do so.
“When people say they fall through the gaps- I call it a black hole. I fell through it nice and early and sort of just didn’t come out of it,” Mr Murray said.
“When I write I want to write as an Aboriginal person about Tasmanian Aboriginal colonisation.
“That’s the space I’m in now, we never got to do it when we were younger.”
Brendan has also worked with youth programs for children and teenagers experiencing family breakdown, addiction, violence, poverty, mental health issues or those in state care.
In his current role with Riawunna, Brendan works with Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students in a new culturally welcoming space at the Cradle Coast Campus, assisting with study and guidance.
Riawunna recognises the barriers faced by Aboriginal people and is committed to Aboriginal Student success by creating a sense of belonging and connection for students and staff.
Watch the video of Brendan's lecture here.