A new subsidised accommodation program is set to make life easier for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who want to move to Brisbane to study at QUT in 2022.
The QUT Indigenous Accommodation Program will help pay for first-year students to live at Student One in Elizabeth Street – a purpose-built student apartment building in the city centre located a 700 metre walk from QUT’s Gardens Point campus (and 650m to the free bus to Kelvin Grove campus).
The heavily subsidised program is run by the QUT Oodgeroo Unit – the university’s support service for First Nations students – in partnership with Student One.
The accommodation building features a central city location, shared apartments, free unlimited wifi, a rooftop cinema and barbecue areas, gym, study areas, and games rooms.
Oodgeroo Unit Director Julie Cook said moving to a new city to go to university was a huge step.
“We know it’s incredibly challenging to leave your family and community and we hope this accommodation program will help reduce the stress of moving and allow students to really enjoy settling into uni in a culturally supportive environment,” she said.
“Students who successfully apply will have subsidised accommodation for their first year of university, and be staying in a safe and accessible location with other First Nations students new to Brisbane. They can make friends and develop connections with mob from all over the country.”
QUT acting student and proud Anmatyerre woman Zoe Walters knows first-hand how difficult it can be to relocate for university – and how good it was to spend her first year of uni at Student One.
Zoe moved from Alice Springs to Brisbane at the start of 2021 to embark on her Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in acting, with QUT’s Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice.
“Moving to Brisbane was definitely a challenge – the hardest part was being away from my family and friends back home,” Zoe said.
“Figuring out how to navigate the city was an adventure – scary but exciting. But the best thing about Brisbane is that it feels like a small town, very relaxed and laid back.
“Living at Student One was a lot of fun – they offer lots of activities such as yoga and cooking classes and I received a scholarship from Student One that reduced my rent. I’ve now moved into a house with some mates from my course, but Student One was a great place to begin my adventure, as the staff are genuinely so kind and caring.”
Zoe started acting in school musicals in Year 7 while she was boarding at Geelong Grammar School.
“There was no looking back from there! There was just something so beautiful about acting, something so emotional, vulnerable and heart-warming,” she said.
“The QUT course has amazing alumni, such as Deborah Mailman and Wayne Blaire, so I knew I wanted to study here. It also focuses on screen acting as well as stage, so it’s a lot broader than most courses and gives you more skills in different areas, which leads to more opportunities.
“The best thing about this year has been the beautiful friends I have made within the course. I am studying alongside the most extraordinary people who share the same passion that I do, and that makes all the difference. I hope to have a long career in the creative industries and I hope to make an impact in the world, especially in the representation of First Nations people in the media.”
And Zoe had this advice for new uni students moving out of home.
“Take care of yourself – you are the most important person in your life,” she said.
“Living on your own can be daunting – you have to cook for yourself, motivate yourself to clean and navigate your mental and physical health.
“It's so crucial that you learn to take care of yourself, set boundaries, seek help when necessary and be good to yourself. It is also important to remember you are not alone … No matter what, there is someone willing to help you – whether it's someone at QUT or your accommodation building.”
Student One’s CEO Tim Weston said the company was pleased to be partnering with QUT for the program.
“With our Elizabeth Street residence being so close to QUT’s Gardens Point Campus the university is able to offer a true living and learning experience for First Nations students while they experience the exciting city life that Brisbane has to offer,” he said.
“Student One is much more than just a safe room over one’s head. Our Residential Life program allows our residents to have a healthy and balanced living experience. Regular gym and yoga sessions, cooking classes, personal and professional development workshops, and healthy doses of food, fun, and friendship are available to all residents.”
Forty-four places will be available in the QUT Indigenous Accommodation Program in 2022.
The program is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are commencing full time study at QUT in semester one and are relocating from a regional, remote or interstate community.
Expressions of interest for 2022 can be made online, and the Oodgeroo Unit will then get in touch with interested people to provide more information.
QUT will also host its Pre-Orientation Program (POP Week) in February to welcome first-year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The week-long program will provide information on services and support within the Oodgeroo Unit and across the whole of QUT.