Hundreds gather to celebrate Community Services graduates 

Community Services students celebrate with staff in Nhulunbuy. Photo by Marjo Hallowell courtesy of the Arafura Times

The Galiwinku and Nhulunbuy communities turned up in force to celebrate the graduation of a group of vocational students in East Arnhem Land recently.

Charles Darwin University Community Services lecturer Michelle Tillman said there were two celebrations – one in each community – to honour the 16 graduates.

“It is the largest group we’ve had and to see hundreds of family, friends and colleagues at each ceremony was a great endorsement for the skills and know-how that the students are bringing to their communities.”

Ms Tillman said the course was designed to be of maximum relevance to the students, all of whom are employed by the Miwatj Health Service.

“Over the past year the students have had a look at real issues and worked on real projects in their communities, which has made the training all the more relevant to them and their circumstances.

“We had input from elders who showed the value of Indigenous tradition and law and who are determined to instill the idea of ‘two-way respect’ so their people can live safely in both worlds.”

Certificate III in Community Services graduate Djilirrma Wunungmurra, of Gove Peninsula, shared her reflections on the course at the Nhulunbuy ceremony on Friday 18 November.

“This training has been a sharing of cultures with lecturer Michelle teaching us mainstream ways and the students teaching her Yolngu ways,” she said.

“There are a lot of families in this big place who need our help and this training has opened my mind to understand and help these people physically, mentally and spiritually.”

Ms Tillman said the communities in East Arnhem Land continually demonstrated the value they place in the training and education.

“All of the graduates want to study next year. The Certificate III graduates will move to Certificate IV level studies and ‘the fours’ plan to take on specific subjects and skill-sets relevant to their work.”