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5 June, 2013
We are saddened by the untimely passing of Dr Yunupingu.
He was influential in establishing the pathway for indigenous students to study at University.
Professor Wendy Brabham, Director of Deakin University's Institute of Koorie Education said Dr Yunupingu was an important part of the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education at Deakin and across Australia.
Dr John Henry, member of Deakin's School of Education Advisory Board, said that in 1985 Dr Yunupingu was influential in setting up a pivotal meeting between Elders of the Yirrkala community, the then Chancellor of Deakin University and other senior members of the university.
At the meeting, agreement was reached between the Chancellor and the community's Elders to recognise Aboriginal knowledge in the University curriculum.
As a result of this agreement, Deakin entered into a partnership with Batchelor College in the Northern Territory in 1986 to deliver the University's Bachelor of Arts (Education), the main teaching qualification at the time, through a community based program called the Deakin Batchelor Aboriginal Teacher Education Program - DBATE.
Dr Yunupingu was among the first group of students to take that program and graduated in 1987 at ceremonies at Batchelor College and at his homeland centre in Northeast Arnhem Land.
DBATE ran for three years in the Northern Territory, graduating 25 Aboriginal teachers.
Prior to that program, it was difficult for Aboriginal teachers in remote areas of Australia to gain a full teaching qualification.
A significant number of DBATE graduates became principals in their own community schools.
Building on this experience, Deakin has continued the delivery of its degree courses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Australia through the Institute of Koorie Education and, by doing so, has opened up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander access and participation to many courses through the Institute's community-based model.
More than 600 students today study at Deakin University through this model.
Dr Yunupingu made an enduring contribution to Aboriginal education at Deakin and across Australia.
We shall miss him.
Professor Jane den Hollander
Deakin Media Relations
03 92468058/ 0400 669 164