Student Volunteer of the Year (Undergraduate)
Dhani Gilbert has been named as 2021 Student Volunteer of the Year (Undergraduate) for her environmental and social advocacy, and contributions to just and sustainable outcomes for Country, community, and young people.
Dhani is a proud Wiradjuri woman, born and raised in Canberra. Her parents instilled in her the values of caring for Country when she was a young child. These values continue to influence Dhani in her studies and volunteer work. Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, veteran Aboriginal activist Kevin Gilbert, Dhani is actively involved in promoting the rights and recognition of Indigenous Australians.
At the age of 16, Dhani was named 2018 Young Canberra Citizen of the Year for her advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For her contributions to her city and her culture, she was recognised as the 2021 ACT Young Woman of the Year.
Dhani chose to study at ANU for the University's commitment to environmental research, particularly by partnering with initiatives that care for Country. A 2021 Kambri Scholar, she is studying a science and sustainability double degree.
First Nations Australians have so much knowledge to share - we've lived in this landscape for tens of thousands of years, and we understand how to take care of it," says Dhani. "We need to incorporate more Indigenous knowledge into contemporary science. The 2020 bushfire emergency really demonstrated the importance of land care and how methods like cultural or 'cool' burning can help to mitigate bushfire risk into the future.
Dhani believes students have a vital role to play in changing the world.
"To me, this award acknowledges the diverse capacity of undergraduate students at ANU. The award challenges any notions that current students are just passive recipients of tertiary education, but rather illuminates the immense strengths, commitment and value current students are already making as community activators, change makers and supporters of positive social change locally and globally."
Read stories of all our awards recipients at 2021 ANU Alumni Awards