From student to change-maker: a volunteer's journey
The dedicated volunteer community at The Australian National University (ANU) embodies the true meaning of giving back, demonstrating that contributions do not need to be financial to have a profound impact on the lives of others.
Frank Gafa is one such volunteer. From the time he was a first-year student in 2008, Frank has taken an active role in helping shape the University for the better. He quickly became involved in the ANU Students Association as its Indigenous Officer, a position he held from 2008 to 2010.
"My two most fulfilling achievements at ANU during this time were setting up regular social catch-ups for Indigenous students and putting together the ANU team for the annual Indigenous Games. I really believe they contributed to a great sense of community for all the mob at Tjabal, and this is one of the reasons I believe in the strength of community-based and run groups like this alumni network," says Frank.
Since graduating, Frank has remained a keen volunteer of the University. He graduated in 2015 and was subsequently invited to be the Chair of the ANU Indigenous Alumni Network. Since 2017, he has played an integral role in steering the Network. He uses his position to bring together the University's Indigenous alumni community, highlighting the impactful work they do, while also providing a platform for advocacy and change.
Frank stated, "It is our vision that this network will continue to provide an avenue for alumni to help create an environment where Indigenous peoples can thrive at ANU."
In 2022, Frank's volunteering extended to moderating panel discussions on Indigenous issues and being part of the University's 75th anniversary celebrations.
His motivation for volunteering and improving the experience of Indigenous staff and students at ANU is rooted in his personal experiences with the University.
"I continue to make a contribution to ANU," Frank says, "because, as alumni, we're the ones who have actually experienced the University, so it's important that we have a say in how to improve things for future generations."