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William’s journey to record key Indigenous knowledge

Man looking away from camera
Mr Rutherford is in Alice Springs, learning from an Elder's knowledge of plants for medical and food purposes.
USQ graduand William Rutherford has embarked on a journey that will not only enrich his own education, but also record and preserve precious cultural knowledge of Indigenous Australia.

Mr Rutherford recently completed a USQ undergraduate degree in Indigenous Knowledge, minoring in Anthropology, and will graduate later this year.

But first, he is in the Northern Territory thanks to an Aurora Internship.

The Aurora Project supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and graduates via funded internships as pathways to jobs in Indigenous organisations and other organisations working in the Indigenous sector.

Mr Rutherford will spend the next few weeks with an Elder in Alice Springs, gaining an in-depth knowledge of his vital information about plants for medical and food purposes. He’ll also work with local children, involving them in community and culture.

Mr Rutherford said he was excited about the opportunity, and that it held significant personal meaning as he was unable to receive cultural knowledge from his own parents.

“I was born in a mission during a time where Indigenous people were suppressed, and discouraged or prevented from passing on their knowledge to their children,” he said.

“I applied to university to be better able to help with issues and challenges related to Indigenous communities. Throughout my studies and research, I’ve learnt much information of personal importance.

“But many Indigenous kids face the same problem I did – a loss of culture. I want to work with communities and education departments to help reinstall lost skills and knowledge.

“This project is a chance for me to get back in the field after years of study, learning from the experience and recording it to share with others.

“That's what life is about, gaining knowledge and passing it along to future generations.”

To learn more about Indigenous Studies at USQ, visit www.usq.edu.au/indigenous-studies.