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27 October 2010
Dr Harold Mitchell, AC has been a long-time supporter of Deakin University and sits on the Board of the Deakin Foundation, the University’s fundraising arm.
In announcing the funding, Dr Mitchell said Deakin University was exemplary in its support for the Koorie culture of Victoria.
"Our country's indigenous culture is a gift and a treasure and it has distinguished itself in contemporary times. It is the world’s oldest-living continuously-evolving culture and we must do everything possible to support its great contribution to this society.
“It is for these reasons that the Harold Mitchell Foundation provides $1 million towards the new centre, in particular the performance venue," he said.
Deakin University has recently embarked on a project to refurbish and extend the iconic Institute of Koorie Education building, located at its Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds.
The planned refurbishment of the Institute’s buildings will include as a central feature a dedicated performance space to support the delivery of an expanded range of programs in the creative arts.
The refurbishment and extension of the building will enable the Institute to increase its student intake and further its reputation as the ‘university of choice’ among Koorie students in Victoria.
Deakin University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander, said the University was delighted with the donation and the opportunity that it provided to enhance the offering to Indigenous Australians.
“Access and equity to higher education is very important to Deakin and this incredibly generous donation will allow us to extend our hand further to Indigenous communities to encourage participation in tertiary education,” she said.
Chair of the Deakin Foundation, The Hon Dr Steve Bracks AC said that the donation represented a major investment in Aboriginal education in Australia and would allow Deakin University and its partners to continue working with Aboriginal communities to improve educational opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Together with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc, the Institute of Koorie Education at Deakin University has established itself as the leading provider of university education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Victoria.
In its first year of operation in 1991, the Institute enrolled 80 students. Next year it expects enrolments to reach 650.
Worrin Williams, a first year Commerce student at the Institute of Koorie Education said the donation from Dr Mitchell was recognition of the future role of Indigenous education.
“IKE is like a home-away-from-home for the students because of the support that we receive and this donation is very exciting, not only for current students but for those who will come after us,” she said.
The Institute offers around 20 programs across all four of Deakin’s faculties - Arts and Education; Health, Medicine, Nursing and Behavioural Sciences; Business and Law, and Science and Technology.
The refurbishment will result in an iconic building that reflects Deakin’s commitment to work in partnership with Aboriginal communities and will include appropriate space for teaching, research and administration.
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