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Butchulla focus of USQ course

Sahrah Vanderburgh, Courtney Mrowcynski, Erich Montfort and Brittany Hughes meet Joe Gala at the beginning of the University of Southern Queensland’s new Butchulla-focused course.
Sahrah Vanderburgh, Courtney Mrowcynski, Erich Montfort and Brittany Hughes meet Joe Gala at the beginning of the University of Southern Queensland’s new Butchulla-focused course.

A GROUP of students from New York State has travelled to Hervey Bay to study a new indigenous course at the University of Southern Queensland Fraser Coast.

Members of the local indigenous community, Joe Gala and Joyce Bonner, gave the students a welcome to Butchulla country with traditional song and dance.

The On Country Learning: Indigenous Knowledge through Butchulla Culture course was launched on Monday.

Head of the USQ school of humanities and communications Bryce Barker said the intensive four-week course was unique and unlike most other indigenous courses in Australia.

“It is unique in that it centres on a specific Aboriginal cultural group, the Butchulla, using their knowledge and country as learning tools to understand Aboriginal Australia from a specific local cultural perspective,” he said.

This week Professor Barker and USQ Fraser Coast’s executive officer indigenous development Christine Young will be teaching the students about Australian Aboriginal history and life before and after colonisation.

The focus is on historical and social contexts of contemporary indigenous Australians and the impact of colonialism on indigenous societies globally, he says.

Following the week-long introduction to Aboriginal culture the students will be taught by Butchulla people.

The course includes lectures and workshops in the classroom and field trips to cultural sites such as Fraser Island, Scrub Hill, Mount Bauple and the Booral fish traps.

The students, all from Suny College at Brockport, will receive accreditation for the course toward their degrees in the United States.

Erich Montfort, 21, said he had chosen the course because he was studying an art major and was interested in indigenous art.

“I’d like to get a better understanding of Aboriginal art,” he said.

Twenty-one-year-old Brittany Hughes and Courtney Mrowcynski, 20, selected the course because it seemed interesting and was something different to anything else they had studied.

Sahrah Vanderburgh, 22, is doing a business major but has always been interested in anthropology and cultural studies.

“I figured this was a great opportunity,” she said.




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The improvement would be mild when compared to past cycles