20 January 2024

University and Riverina Oils target underrepresentation of First Nations people in agriculture

| Chris Roe
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Riverina Oils is backing Indigenous students to pursue a career in agriculture through CSU.

Riverina Oils is backing Indigenous students to pursue a career in agriculture through CSU. Photo: Riverina Oils.

With First Nations Australians vastly underrepresented in the agriculture industry, Charles Sturt University (CSU) and Riverina Oils are again joining forces to encourage Indigenous students to develop careers in the sector.

The Riverina Oils First Nations agricultural initiative scholarship offers applicants $24,000 over three years to cover expenses and give them a start in the agriculture industry.

“The students can use the scholarships to cover any of the costs that they might face with higher education, from accommodation to textbooks and work placements,” explained Charles Sturt Foundation CEO Sarah Ansell.

“It’s essentially aimed at addressing underrepresentation of First Nations people in agriculture and there’s also a lot of research happening in that space exploring and testing some of those Indigenous practices and knowledge that have been passed down.”

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Three point eight per cent of Australia’s population identify as Indigenous but only make up 1 per cent of the agricultural workforce.

Riverina Oils has pledged $100,000 in CSU Indigenous scholarship programs over four years.

Riverina Oils has pledged $100,000 in CSU Indigenous scholarship programs over four years. Photo: Riverina Oils.

CSU’s unique scholarship program is part of the School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences and provides potential students with a pathway into agricultural industries.

“The scholarships are so important because they take away the financial barriers associated with making decisions about whether or not to pursue tertiary studies,” Ms Ansell said.

“We are seeing growth in the numbers of Indigenous students at CSU and we are growing in the type of support that we can provide for all students, which makes a significant difference.

“Organisations like Riverina Oils understand that this could be a game changer and are investing heavily in making that happen.”

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Riverina Oils is one of the largest crushers and refiners of canola oil in Australia, processing 200,000 tonnes of canola seed annually and successful applicants will have the opportunity of hands-on experience at the Wagga facility.

“The scholarship comes, not only with the money, but with an opportunity to do a work placement, so it’s a real opportunity to set up your future, work out what sort of work you want to be doing and get some really great experience with an organisation like Riverina Oils,” Ms Ansell said.

While this program targets Indigenous students, Ms Ansell said Charles Sturt University offered a broad range of scholarships.

“We give away around $4 million in scholarships every year, so I’d encourage people to have a look at that and see what’s available and to apply to tell their story,” she said.

“There are so many wonderful organisations out there in our communities that support us, which is phenomenal, but we’re always looking for more people that see the value in what we’re doing and would like to come along and be part of that.”

For further information including how to apply, visit the Charles Sturt scholarship page.

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