Caring for Country is important to Dhani

03 Jun 2021

I am a proud Wiradjuri woman, from the Kalari (Lachlan River) born and raised here in Canberra. When I was a young child, my parents instilled in me the importance of connection, community and caring for Country. I practise it in my daily life, and have a responsibility to pass it on to future generations.

I'm currently in my second year at ANU, studying a science and sustainability double degree. I am also studying a Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language and Culture at a different university.

I am passionate about pursuing a career as a field ecologist, working with vulnerable species and communities, and advocating for First Nations ways of caring for County. First Nations communities have rich ecological knowledge - we've lived in and had stewardship of this landscape for tens of thousands of years, and we understand how to take care of it.

I wanted to study at ANU for its commitment to environmental research, particularly by partnering with initiatives that care for Country and support species recovery. The Tjabal Centre - as the centre of community for First Nations students on campus - was another big drawcard for me.

One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome to get to university was my own self-doubt. Although I desperately wanted it, I didn't have the confidence to believe university study was something I could do. When I found out I had received a Kambri Scholarship, I was so excited! Suddenly, university education seemed more accessible. I don't come from a wealthy family, and this scholarship means I can really focus on my studies, without having to worry about financial constraints.

The Kambri Scholarship showed me that not only do other people think I belong at university, but they are willing to support me to do it. 

As young people, we're constantly told that we can't do things, we're too young, we don't have enough experience, or we don't understand things enough to be able to make a difference. But that's not true. Our knowledge and our experiences are just as valid as anyone else's; we inherit the consequences of earlier generations' choices and our voices should be heard. This is especially true in the face of a changing climate.

Environmental and social advocacy is an important part of my life. We need to incorporate more First Nations knowledge into contemporary science - our knowledge is legitimate, time-tested and holds sustainable solutions for the issues we face in our communities and environment. The 2020 bushfire emergency really demonstrated the importance of proper land care. It showed how methods like cultural or 'cool' burning can help to mitigate bushfire risk and better support our landscape into the future.

Studying at ANU is helping me realise my dream of caring for Country. The Kambri Scholarship is more than just about supporting academia, it is also about removing barriers for First Nations students, giving back to community and striving for excellence.

By supporting the Kambri Scholars Program, you can help students like me to achieve their dreams and contribute to our environment, our communities, and the future of Australia.

Learn more about the Kambri Scholars Program

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