Indigenous affairs

UWA builds new housing for Indigenous students

Aboriginal Uni Students will get new housing at UWA: Photo David Blayney

The University of Western Australia is to get a $12.8 million student housing facility especially for Aboriginal students.

The accommodation will improve facilities at Saint Catherine’s  College, one of UWA’s biggest residential complexes.

Federal Housing Minister Peter Tinley said the completion of the new accommodation at Saint Catherine’s College, set for the beginning of next year, would double the capacity of the existing Dandjoo Darbalung program.

Dandjoo Darbalung program co-ordinator Lynn Webber said she looked forward to the growing the program and providing more accommodation for the students.

She said she believed the 90 per cent retention rate among Indigenous students at university was a result of the quality of the accommodation.

“There is an incredible increase in the number of students joining the program every year,” she said.

“When I started the program in 2012, there were eight students in St Catherine’s College and we now have 102 and have 68 students currently enrolled in the program.

“We are giving them a program where they have belonging, identity and culture which are key ingredients to changing the retention rates of Indigenous university students.

“I really hope that other government residential colleges jump on board with increasing numbers, putting staff on to support students to consider changing that retention rate.”

Federal Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said the commitment from UWA was outstanding.

“Well-grounded education gives you the confidence to take on leadership roles, to enter debates around key issues that are critical to society, but in particular to Aboriginal communities,” Mr Wyatt said.