Wednesday, 15 February 2023: Woolworths Group is helping realise the dream of a national First Nations residential college championing Indigenous excellence. The College, the first of its kind in Australia, is an initiative of the University of Technology Sydney. 

The College will be Indigenous designed and led, with Indigenous programs, an Indigenous library, a family history research centre and an arts centre. It will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to choose a residential college that, at its heart, celebrates their identity, cultures and traditions. 

It has the backing of more than 50 Indigenous leaders.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said Woolworths Group was proud to work with the university to help provide new educational pathways for First Nations students.

“Not only will this College be Indigenous led, it will welcome students of all nations and cultural traditions and will be a model of the inclusive Australian society we wish to work and live in,” Mr Banducci said.

“We believe in the power of education to transform lives - when supported by employment pathways, the College will not only place culture at the heart of learning, but will provide career opportunities and cultural sharing across our entire group.

“The partnership is part of our commitment to change for Indigenous outcomes and building a more inclusive nation, embodying Woolworths Group's purpose of creating better experiences together for a better tomorrow.” 

Currently, fewer than half of young Indigenous people earn a tertiary credential after high school, and across Australia, completion rates are lagging because the existing environments do not make Indigenous students feel at home.

Professor Michael McDaniel AO, UTS Special Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor for Major Indigenous Strategic Priorities, said university education is critical in preparing for leadership roles and improving life opportunities, health, education and economic outcomes. 

“The health gap closes, the life expectancy gap closes, the housing gap closes, every other gap closes. Education is the key to that. 

“This pledge forms part of a deeper partnership between Woolworths Group and UTS based on values of Indigenous self-determination, kinship and community.

“Woolworths Group will be an ongoing ally in our shared goal towards building an inclusive nation,” said Professor Andrew Parfitt, UTS Vice-Chancellor and President.

Once built, the College will provide scholarships and cost-covered accommodation for Indigenous students, strong connections with schools and employers, and nurture the future Indigenous leaders of the nation.

The publicly accessible arts centre will be a place for sharing culture and showcasing events in collaboration with a range of education, cultural, community, industry and government partners.  

Woolworths Group’s partnership and investment of $10million builds on more than 12 years of a relationship with UTS through Women in Engineering scholarships and industry advisory roles. This is the second largest philanthropic pledge in the history of UTS, and the largest commitment ever for UTS Indigenous initiatives.    

The commitment emphasises the power of partnership and an engaged approach to philanthropy as catalysts for change. A collaborative funding model is bringing together UTS, government, industry and philanthropists to deliver the initiative for the nation. Other founding major donors to the initiative include philanthropic leaders such as The Oranges and Sardines Foundation, the Cowled Foundation and Wilson Asset Management as well as significant founding pledges from the NSW State Government and City of Sydney.  

Building works for the College will commence in 2025.  

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