Indigenous Tertiary Education Conference

‘Indigenous Genius’ Highlighted at Indigenous Tertiary Education Conference

On 18-19 November 2016, Trinity College in partnership with the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education was delighted to host the inaugural Indigenous Tertiary Education Conference (ITEC).


Focusing on the theme of transitions, the conference provided a forum where a diverse range of people came together to share information and knowledge on how best to support and improve outcomes for Indigenous higher education students. Through thought provoking discussion, over 160 delegates considered key issues and fostered new networks. 

The Conference Committee was chaired by Professor Ian Anderson, the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) and Foundation Chair in Indigenous Higher Education at the University of Melbourne. The Conference Ambassador was Professor Marcia Langton, Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne.

The keynote speakers were Rachel Perkins (filmmaker, producer and screenwriter), Belinda Duarte (CEO of Culture is Life) and Professor Linda Smith (University of Waikato).

The College was privileged to also host the Marika artists, Dhuwarrwarr and Rarriwuy Marika, from North-East Arnhem Land. They participated in the art discussion and conversed with delegates viewing the Indigenous art exhibition, First Light.

The 2016 Narrm Orator Stan Grant (journalist, social commentator and activist), who resided at the College for the duration of the conference, also gave a guest presentation and chaired the student forum.  This was one of the highlights of the conference. At this session, four of Trinity’s Indigenous students (Douglas Briggs, Eloise Bentley, Alexandra Hohoi, and Neerim Callope) spoke candidly with audience members about the challenges facing Indigenous students transitioning to higher education.

Conference sessions explored the theme of TRANSITIONS including: 

  • The challenges of transitioning from secondary to tertiary studies for Indigenous students
  • The role and value of residential accommodation, in particular collegiate education, in supporting transition to tertiary study, and in contributing to retention and academic success  
  • Best practice in student wellbeing and support when transitioning to new educational institutions and living arrangements
  • The role and importance of transition from undergraduate to postgraduate studies, and from postgraduate studies to research and teaching or other professional appointments
  • The importance of subjects such as Indigenous studies and Aboriginalities in fostering identity and facilitating transition for Indigenous students and improving cultural literacy and awareness of non-Indigenous students.


When asked about the most beneficial aspect of the conference one delegate commented, ‘hearing the students’ perspective and the underlying issues that affect indigenous students accessing and succeeding in tertiary education.’ Another delegate stated, ‘It was great to hear so many different perspectives and see Indigenous genius and strength in the spotlight.’

Trinity College thanks all those who attended the conference over the two days and for their thoughtful contributions. We look forward to welcoming you back in the future.

Click here to view all the photos from the conference.