Our Inaugural Gilchrist Foundation Scholarship Awardees

TYA LOVETT2021 Archaeology Undergraduate Scholarship at The University of New England

Tya, Allira, Willem and Katie

Statement accompanying Tya Lovett’s application for the 2021 Archaeology Scholarship at UNE in 2021:

I was employed by Aboriginal Victoria for 10 years as a Heritage Project Officer/Authorised Officer administrating the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. During this time my ultimate goal was to always complete a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology, however with a heavy consistent workload and growing young family this goal was not achievable. Therefore, to make my goal a reality I resigned from Aboriginal Victoria in 2018.

Career aspirations as an archaeologist would allow me to operate as a Heritage Advisor in Victoria, and or seek other opportunities to further enhance the knowledge and understanding of the lifeways of Aboriginal people in all states and territories of Australia. In addition, I have a strong passion for education and training, which my previous employment experience and tertiary education would allow me to educate local and international audiences of all ages the importance and significance

Furthermore, my tertiary degree will also be invested back into my ancestral lands, community and family members. This will ensure that the Gunditjmara people, our cultural knowledge, customs, practices and connection to country remains unbroken for current and future generations. In fact, I may be the first archaeologist of Gunditjmara descent which would be a great honour and privilege, although will need to confirm during the next Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation full group meeting in early 2021.

My extra-curricular involvement has been limited. This has been mainly due to the geographic living locations since commencing tertiary studies and also caring for my two young children aged seven and four while mother/spouse’s employment as a remote area nurse (RAN) in remote Aboriginal communities, such as Gapuwiyak and Nauiyu, Northern Territory (NT) and Looma, Western Australia (WA).

Although, since commencement of tertiary studies I have undertaken the following:

  • -guest lecturer at the Certificate IV in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management course, hosted by Aboriginal Victoria & La Trobe University in Melbourne;
  • -presenter/facilitator at Aboriginal scarred tree training, hosted by Parks Victoria in Melbourne;
  • -participated in numerous cultural activities, ceremonial events and visited traditional homelands in the remote Aboriginal communities stated above; and
  • -more recently, provided assistance in the form of letter writing, landscape mapping and general advice to Traditional Owners currently living at Nauiyu, NT, with aspersions to establish a new family outstation on their traditional homelands in the West Daly Region, NT.

The impact of not receiving scholarship support would continue to affect me and my family financially, such as ongoing course fees, textbooks and other home office expenses as an online student. For example, most course unit textbooks, particularly archaeology textbooks average 100 dollars. Furthermore, I recently had to purchase a laptop as a result of old laptop being excessively used since 2018 for tertiary studies. Therefore, any university costs either foreseen or unforeseen contributes to my overall study performance and unit grade results. Thus, imperative that financial matters are balanced between family and tertiary studies, as spouse provides primary source of income.

Sufficient scholarship assistance will ensure greater success in the completion of my chosen tertiary degree. The scholarship may likely assist to decrease current study debt and or provide an opportunity to fund future course units and other associated university fees. Any financial contributions will reduce my overall financial debt upon completing my tertiary degree, which will ultimately support the initial success while commencing a career in the field of archaeology.

Special obstacles overcome in my path to study:

Financial – Since commencing tertiary studies, my spouse has provided the primary source of income for our family of four while employed as a RAN in remote Aboriginal communities across northern Australia. I have received some Abstudy support in 2020 ($3307), hence why I started casual employment in June 2020 at the Woolianna Primary School, NT. However, I finish employment in November 2020 due to time management stress on tertiary studies and as primary carer of children while spouse worked full time which is reflective on some course unit grades. More recently, the family and I have unexpectedly returned back to Victoria until February 2021 due to mother-in-law health concerns, which spouse is on leave without pay until returning back to work.

Geographic – I commenced my tertiary studies in Trimester 2 (T2) 2018, while spouse was employed as a RAN at Gapuwiyak, NT. My studies have been challenging from the start due to living away from immediate family, spouse’s employment opportunities as RAN within remote Aboriginal communities across northern Australia. Furthermore, studying never stopped while travelling between spouses work destinations, which seen me studying in the caravan, camp kitchens, shelters and local libraries at varying times. However, given above I have successively managed to complete 13 course units and currently enrolled in two units for (T3) 2020.

Cultural – My cultural obligations as a Gunditjmara man from southwest Victoria has been temporally interrupted, thus unable to participate in cultural activities and events on my ancestral country. However, since commencing tertiary studies I have explored parts of Australia while travelling between spouses work locations, lived in remote Aboriginal communities, exchanged cultural knowledge, participated in numerous cultural activities and ceremonial events. These opportunities have strengthened my cultural knowledge and understanding, thus an invaluable asset while studying archaeology and may provide future opportunities to work with many Traditional Owners from Arnhem Land, and the Daly and Kimberley regions.

Additional Information

I grew up with five siblings (four sisters and one brother) in Halls Gap, Victoria. Unfortunately, at the age of four, just after moving to Halls Gap from Warrnambool, dad died in 1989 from a heart attack after attending a nation-wide cultural gathering in Darwin, NT. Since than my mother has successively raised all children as a single parent to present day, four of which have completed secondary education and only one completing a tertiary degree. Furthermore, I will be the second child in the family to complete tertiary education degree.

Since completing year 9 secondary education, I have pursued educational and employment opportunities in Tourism, Land Management, Mining, Fire Fighter, Aboriginal cultural heritage management and most recently completing a Batcheler of Arts in Archaeology at University of New England. In reflection, I recall when I first was employed with Aboriginal Victoria in 2008 my numeracy and literacy skills were very low. However, over the years I have worked tirelessly to strengthen these fundamental life skills which has given me the confidence for tertiary studies and ultimately will provide success to fulfill my future career aspirations.

Lastly, sufficient scholarship assistance will ensure greater success in the completion of my Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology degree currently being undertaken at the University of New England. Thus, also supporting the first archaeologist of Gunditjmara descent.

And now Tya has provided this short update:

UNE Studies

I have five units remaining before completing my Bachelor of Arts (extended major in Archaeology) at University of New England (UNE).  I have not enrolled in trimester 3 units this year (2021), rather applying for ‘Advance Standing’ for three of the five units.

La Trobe University (employment – 1 October 2021)

Some exciting news, I commenced ongoing employment as Senior Educator with La Trobe University (LTU) Bundoora Campus (Vic) delivering the Certificate IV in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management (ACHM) course.

This employment opportunity with LTU allows me to work alongside Victorian Traditional Owners within a Vocational Education and Training (VET) environment, including sharing my personal/work experiences and tertiary study knowledge to a cohort of 18-20 students each year.

In addition, working within the Department of Archaeology and History at LTU will also allow me to establish working relationships with staff members who are experts in their field of study, for example archaeology and anthropology which will assist my future Aboriginal academic research projects.     

Additional Activities (community/volunteer/study)

I have enrolled to upgrade my ‘Trainer and Assessor’ qualification through Inspire Education, which is a requirement for my new role at LTU as I will be assessing student assessments in 2022.

Volunteer work has allowed me to assist private property owners, Parks Victoria and Traditional Owners register an Aboriginal rock art site and rock wells at Black Range Scenic Reserve, Victoria. In addition, I have conducted one ‘welcome to country and smoking ceremony’ in Halls Gap for the local primary school and community garden members.

Since returning home, back to Gariwerd (Halls Gap / Grampians National Park), any spare time is spent reconnecting with country, exploring new and previously visited places with family.

Closing comments

University studies remains a priority and anticipate graduation in late 2022. I wish to thank my donor and the Gilchrist Foundation for your ongoing support assisting me during my tertiary studies at UNE. In addition, my LTU employment allows me to work from home.

SIENNA LORETO2022 Diploma of Nursing Scholarship at Wollongbar TAFE

Our inaugural TAFE scholarship awardee – Sienna Loreto.

Sienna Loreto is our very first TAFE scholarship awardee. Sienna is studying a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing at TAFE and wants to further her studies in the paramedical area.


Sienna wrote, in her application for the scholarship: “All my life I have been drawn to medicine: I love the idea of being able to help people. My aspirations for the future are to pursue a career in paramedicine or trauma. After I’ve completed my Diploma in Nursing, I would love to get a post grad somewhere more central. I’d love to learn things from nurses and other medical officers who are well established in their careers and assist young AIN’s who are up and coming or ones who are looking to pursue a career where they are. After my post grad I would love to complete my Registered Nursing degree and then study paramedicine, to work in trauma and be first on scene is my DREAM! I would also like to do my master’s degree, I’m not sure the field yet but it is something I have always wanted to do.”

Sienna has already achieved significant results despite some difficult life-experiences and is a deserving awardee of our scholarship.