Sharing untold stories of community

1 July 2024

Sarah Watego interning at Channel 9, Gold Coast.Sarah Watego graduates from The University of Queensland next month as the last recipient of a scholarship created to empower the next generation of aspiring Indigenous Australian journalists.

Prior to his retirement in 2019, former UQ Lecturer of Journalism Bruce Woolley established the Journalism Scholarship for Indigenous Engagement to support a student’s full potential; bringing value to classrooms, communities, and the institution of journalism.

Bruce has always strongly believed in the need for more Indigenous voices in our national debate, and it seemed to him that educating more young Indigenous Australians in the skills of journalism and reporting was a good start.

“Sarah is exactly the sort of winner of this scholarship that I had in mind - smart, dedicated, and very connected within her community,” Bruce said.

“She also believes in the good that journalism can do to unite Australians by exposing and reporting what's really happening in our multicultural society.”

Sarah will leave UQ as a Bachelor of Journalism graduate on a journey to share the untold stories of community.

One day she plans to travel the world learning from other Indigenous cultures so she can write meaningful and impactful stories about their lives.

“I always had a passion for storytelling, and I want to shed light on the challenges faced by Aboriginal people,” Sarah said.

“But more importantly, I want to highlight the achievements, because I believe there is a lack of good news in the media of my people.”

Storytelling is something that Indigenous communities have been doing for thousands of years, and tapping into that ancient skill ensures their stories are told in an engaging way.

Bruce said journalists with personal connections to remote communities, like Sarah, have unique access to information and perspectives that bridge cultural divides.

“These journalists bring a much-needed voice to the national conversation and ensure Australia – and the world – gets the whole story.

“They would be able to tell stories about what their life is really like, and how they would like things to change and improve,” he said.

Sarah is incredibly grateful for the financial support throughout the duration of her degree, and her connection to Bruce gave her opportunities she never thought possible, including an internship at Nine News on the Gold Coast.

“I am so thankful for Bruce and his generosity, as well as the knowledge I gained from my amazing UQ lecturers and tutors.

“This program really allowed me to be creative and explore topics that I feel deeply about, and I feel like I can now walk away with my degree feeling confident.

“The future is always indefinite, but wherever I may end up, I know what I want to do and that is to be able to share stories of my own mob and community,” Sarah said.

The Journalism Scholarship for Indigenous Engagement provided $5,000 a year for every year of UQ’s undergraduate Bachelor of Journalism or Bachelor of Arts program.

The funds came from consultation fees Bruce earned while at UQ conducting journalism courses in Mongolia (funded by the German government's GIZ organisation), training other academics in using multimedia for their own courses across the University, prize money he received for a HASS Teaching Award, and generous colleagues and friends.

With the scholarship no longer available, the remaining funds have been allocated to the HASS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship, which is soon to get a new recipient for 2024.

If you wish to help unlock the potential for the next generation of Indigenous trailblazers, you can make a gift today