UNSW’s Indigenous students shining bright in academia, sport and beyond

04 Jul 2024
Indigenous Students Awards Night

June was a month of celebration, with the annual Indigenous Students Awards Night and Indigenous Nationals. 

Blak excellence was spotlighted at these two high-profile events, and the University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were lauded for their success in their studies and personal achievements, as well as in competitive sport. 

Indigenous Students Awards Night 

On 20 June, Nura Gili hosted the annual UNSW Indigenous Students Awards Night on campus at Leighton Hall — an event dedicated to recognising student achievement. 


The night was hosted by Anaiwan woman Sarah Hyland, a UNSW alumna who completed UNSW’s Indigenous Pre-Programin Business in 2009, a Bachelor of Commerce in 2013 and now runs her own accounting firm Together Business

Ms Hyland’s inspirational journey was mirrored in the night’s award recipients, who were recognised for academic excellence or spirit. 

This year’s winners were: 

Arts, Design & Architecture
Undergraduate academic award: Tahlia Mckee
Postgraduate academic award: Zoe Simms
Spirit award: Sarah Scott

Business School
Undergraduate academic award: Kyle Wilson
Postgraduate academic award: Brooke O’Donnell 
Spirit award: Carlos Brennan

Undergraduate academic award: Julia Anderson
Postgraduate academic award: Zachary Corbett
Spirit award: Jonah Bedford

Law & Justice
Undergraduate academic award: Kyle Fox
Postgraduate academic award: Lauren Davies
Spirit award: Paula-Rose Bassett

Medicine & Health
Undergraduate academic award: Jorge Hormovas
Postgraduate academic award: Stacey Lamont
Spirit award: Nellie Pollard-Wharton

Undergraduate academic award: Eden Slicer and Sally O’Bryan
Postgraduate academic award: Bailey Tinta
Spirit award: James McCallum

UNSW Canberra
Undergraduate academic award: Benjamin-John Baird
Spirit award: Nicola Mitchell 

The event included a Welcome to Country from Auntie Maxine Ryan, opening address from Professor Merlin Crossley, DVC Academic Quality, an introduction from Scott Parlett, Director of Nura Gili, a guest address from UNSW alumnus Murrie Kemp, and music by Cianna Walker and DJ Ashley Donovan. 

The evening was filled with positivity and pride, with students, staff and community coming together to celebrate. 

Indigenous Nationals 

This year marks the 28th year that the Indigenous Nationals have been held, bringing together Indigenous student-athletes from universities across Australia to share their culture, network with others and build relationships.

Over four days, this event saw teams competing in basketball, netball, volleyball and touch football, celebrating Indigenous culture and sporting excellence.


The University of Wollongong played host this year, with games played on Dharawal country from 23 – 27 June. Team UNSW competed in Basketball, Netball, Volleyball and Touch Football, making it to three quarter finals and finishing in 6th place overall.

Reflecting on the four days of intense competition, it’s clear our students embodied the spirit of the Indigenous Nationals – the camaraderie and sportsmanship displayed by our team were truly commendable. 

Special recognition goes to Molly Thomson, a proud Wiradjuri Country woman, who was awarded the BP Scholarship. This scholarship is given to the most promising Indigenous student-athletes to support their academic and athletic endeavours. Molly’s achievement is a testament to her hard work and dedication, and she stands as a role model for aspiring Indigenous athletes.