Moondani Balluk, our Indigenous Academic Unit, offers support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. We can help you with applying for a course or getting financial assistance and scholarships.

Our strong background in education and engagement has helped many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students reach their full potential at Victoria University.

VU has many courses you can choose from at undergraduate or postgraduate level, plus many short courses and tailored training for business and industry. Aboriginal higher education and vocational education units are available across a number of courses and programs at VU.

Assistance available to students

Moondani Balluk can help you with:

  • ABSTUDY applications
  • course and enrolment advice
  • scholarships and awards
  • access to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource Library
  • referral to counselling, including discrimination advice and referral
  • referrals and support in housing and finance matters
  • social support through our campus locations, cultural awareness activities, community organisations and events
  • graduations and the option to wear and keep the VU Aboriginal stole (a type of academic dress worn at VU graduation ceremonies)
  • career and employment advice through cadetships, work experience and job listings.

For more information on available assistance, please contact:

Marcus Brooke
Aboriginal Student Support Coordinator, Moondani Balluk
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 4914

Meriki McCrae-Cooper
Aboriginal Student Officer (VU Polytechnic/TAFE)
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 2188

Rhiannon Madden
Aboriginal Student Officer (VU Polytechnic/TAFE)
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 5197

How to apply

Applications to most VU courses are via our Online Admissions Centre, or through the Victoria Tertiary Admission Centre (VTAC).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students may be eligible for VU’s Moondani Balluk Aboriginal admission program – fill out the form and a member of staff will get back to you.

Students should also complete the relevant section of the VTAC Special Entry Access Scheme, or the Special Consideration Application on VU direct applications.

Those interested in applying for a course should contact Moondani Balluk staff to discuss course options, and the range of support services and pastoral care available.

Marcus Brooke
Aboriginal Student Support Coordinator, Moondani Balluk
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 4914

Meriki McCrae-Cooper
Aboriginal Student Officer (VU Polytechnic/TAFE)
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 2188

Rhiannon Madden
Aboriginal Student Officer (VU Polytechnic/TAFE)
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 5197

Financial assistance

There are a range of undergraduate scholarships and externally-funded scholarships available, and Moondani Balluk can assist you in your application.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying TAFE courses at Victoria University are eligible for indigenous student concessions.

Moondani Balluk can also assist with a student grant. Find out more about Moondani Balluk student grants and the application process.

The Commonwealth Scholarships Program assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from low socio-economic backgrounds, particularly those from rural and regional areas. There are three Indigenous Commonwealth scholarship types:

  • Indigenous Access Scholarship (IAS)
  • Indigenous Commonwealth Education Costs Scholarship (ICECS)
  • Indigenous Commonwealth Accommodation Costs Scholarship (ICAS).

The Aboriginal Tertiary Scholarships Program provides financial support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to undertake full-time studies in a justice-related field.

The Soroptimist Scholarship for Indigenous Australian Women supports an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander female student to complete undergraduate study at VU each year. It provides financial support of $2,500 for up to two years.

The Aspiration Initiative Indigenous Scholarships lists over 700 scholarships for undergraduate study at Australian universities. It also lists postgraduate scholarships for study in Australia and overseas.

The Mary MacKillop Today First Nations Tertiary Scholarship includes $5,000 per year towards living expenses associated with tertiary study for the duration of your course (in two yearly payments of $2,500).

The Aboriginal History Archive Research Scholarships are granted to candidates with a strong understanding of the nature of community control to conduct independent and team-based research, which will contribute to a research project funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

Led by Professor Gary Foley, the overarching aim of the project is to unearth Indigenous history, stories, alternative narratives and learnings from the past, to engage communities, present into the public debate, provide materials for curricula, and, most importantly, make submissions to the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission in Victoria.

Participation in this project provides a unique opportunity to contribute to impactful research in Indigenous history, truth and justice, and generate results to support, accelerate and directly impact the work of the Justice Commission.

  • Annual stipend value: $45,000 per year (2022 rate)
  • Tuition fees: covered

More information on Masters and PhD Scholarships can be found here.

The Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) provides scholarships that enable Indigenous students in financial need to attend leading Australian schools and universities.

The Indigenous Allied Health Australia scholarships portal lists many scholarships for undergraduate study at Australian universities.

The Good Universities Guide scholarships portal advertises a range of different scholarships, which are available for students studying various courses.

Our students' successes

Paola Balla is a Wemba-Wemba and Gunditjmara woman of the Day and Egan families, and also of Italian and Chinese migrant blood. Paola is an artist, curator, speaker, educator and community arts worker.

She was an inaugural graduate of VU’s Nyerna Studies program in 2001, has a Postgraduate Diploma and Masters in Community Cultural Development (VCA), and recently enrolled as a PhD researcher at VU. Paola is the first recipient of the Lisa Bellear Indigenous Research Scholarship. Paola has also been a lecturer at Moondani Balluk, and a senior curator in the First Peoples exhibition at Melbourne Museum.

During 2015, Paola was Artist in Residence at Moondani Balluk. She created site-specific works and writings from research into trans-generational trauma/colonial injury, impacts on Aboriginal women and their place in contemporary art.

Sharna is a Gunditjmara woman with connections to Framlingham, South West Victoria.

"I graduated from a Bachelor of Nursing at Victoria University (VU) in 2018. While studying I had the opportunity to work as a nurse assistant on one of the wards at the Western Health Footscray Hospital as part of the Western Health Aboriginal Nurse Cadetship Program."

"VU was my first preference because my mum also studied at there, she studied Community Services/Mumgu-Dhal. She felt like a part of the VU Indigenous community and I felt I was always welcomed by everyone to be a part of it."

"VU was also recommended to me by my mum because it’s a lot more welcoming, student focused and flexible compared to other places. VU and Moondani Balluk – Indigenous Academic Unit are a culturally safe space and that’s important. Each student has different needs and VU takes that into account."

"VU and Moondani Balluk are grassroots and organic in the ways it operates. They are very involved in community and are a grassroots organisation, working closely with Footscray organisations, so you definitely feel you are part of community."

"I engaged with Moondani Balluk extensively throughout my time at VU. They were really supportive and assisted a lot with choosing my courses and how to navigate the university system."

"I enrolled into the Bachelor of Kyinandoo (Indigenous studies) to adjust to university life before I switched over to Nursing. For me, Kyinandoo acted as a bridging course and a foundation to build on and eased me into higher education and studying. I would not be here if it wasn’t for Moondani Balluk who supported me in the difficult transition into life at VU from high school."

"My teachers helped me, supported me and enabled me to understand self-development, self-practice and self-learning which helped me be the best student and person I can possibly be."

Picture courtesy of Western Health.

"We are Wiradjuri sisters who have graduated with double degrees from VU’s Bachelor of Arts (Honours) as well as its Bachelor of Arts (Kyinandoo). We all received first class Honours for our theses."

"We are Research Officers at VU’s Moondani Balluk Academic Unit; we continue working together on projects that include working with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service related to the Royal Commission’s investigation into child abuse in institutions, as well as working on many other indigenous research projects across Victoria University. We wish to go on to further our education with postgraduate studies."

"Our father was our inspiration for our Honours thesis, we were able to use this platform to record and highlight our father’s story. It is important that we as Aboriginal people tell our stories our way."

Read more about the Lyons sisters.

Samantha Madden has had a diverse study pathway. Sam started a Certificate IV in Youth Work at Victoria University Polytechnic before transitioning into the Diploma of Youth Work.

She then went on to complete a Bachelor of Youth Work at Victoria University.

Sam left school in year ten and with great support from staff in Moondani Balluk and Victoria University Polytechnic was able to flourish. Throughout her placement at ‘The Indigenous Gathering Place Health Service’ Sam gained experience in assisting and supporting young people and their families who were homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless.

In class, Sam learnt a lot of theory and by undertaking a student placement was able to put that theory into practice in the workplace.

"Victoria University Polytechnic and Moondani Balluk have played a massive role in shaping the worker I have become, by teaching me the basic foundation skills and other professional attributes needed to conduct myself professionally and ethically in the workplace. Without them, no career achievement would have been possible."

"I am from Wilcannia, NSW. Bakandji river people. I had been enquiring for over two years and waited patiently for an indigenous course to start at VU. After completing Mumgu-Dhal Tyama-Tiyt through TAFE I have gone on to study a higher education degree, studying a Bachelor of Arts (Kyinandoo)."

"I was excited. I stuck it out; I was raised to finish something I started. I have a lot of professional people in my family. So I knew I had great support."

"After completing my Bachelor of Arts (Kyinandoo) I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 2017 to continue my journey. As a part of my Honours coursework, my written thesis covered the language, lores and rules of the Bakandji people."

"I also included a creative aspect to my thesis, with my artwork detailing stories and rich cultural knowledge passed down to me by my Mother, which were a part of the creative aspects of my thesis. This art was displayed at an exhibition at the Footscray Community Arts Centre and contributed towards my assessment."

"My mother was the keeper of all the knowledge and was my inspiration for writing my thesis."

"I am considering continuing into a Masters or possibly writing my own book based on my Mother, which will expand what I covered in my thesis."

"I thoroughly enjoyed my studies in Honours and I would sincerely encourage other students to go forward and continue studies where possible, never let anything hold you back."

"Education is the key to your future, as my Mother used to say, through education the world is your oyster."

"I'm Badimia Yamatji and Whadjuk Nyoongar currently living in Melbourne's western suburbs. I recently completed a Bachelor of Arts Kyinandoo and Bachelor of Arts Honours at Victoria University."

"As an undergraduate student I combined Moondani Balluk's units with Creative Arts Industries units as I'm interested in both areas and used my Honours year to focus closely on indigenous theatre. I'm about to commence an MPhil (Masters by coursework) in Social Anthropology at Cambridge University in England, again looking at indigenous theatre. Once the MPhil is complete I'll move into my PhD, either at Cambridge or in Australia and I look forward to developing my career as an academic."

Read more about Olivia Slater.

Werte (means hello in Arrerente) my name is Kath Apma (Penangke) Travis I am a proud Imarnte woman of the Arrernte people of Central Australia and a stolen generation survivor.

I fell into attending Uni by accident. I had never been to Uni before, nor did I think I could do so. A chance meeting with the Director Karen Jackson (KJ) of Moondani Balluk Academic Unit gave me the opportunity to explain my family research and share my story – one I thought I would like to write a book about. I had a story, so why not share it?

I began the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 2018 part-time, as I work full-time for the Department of Justice and Community Safety. From the onset I decided to complete the course creatively. This meant I could do a creative piece of work complemented with an exegesis (a mini thesis). My exegesis was titled 'Child stealing, family, intergenerational trauma & The Black Headed Snake' and my creative work was a family her-storical biography.

My first three weeks were horrendous. It was like learning a new language. The words and terminology were difficult to understand; classes were in a large theatrette, and only a handful of students – who were all as young as my own children. Many visits were needed to Moondani Balluk Academic Centre for support, none more so than one in my third week, when all I could do was cry – challenged about whether I was even capable of undertaking this ginormous task. The support was amazing and on-going. In my second year I had a supervisor, the amazing Tony Birch. The door was always open when I ran into a trouble spot, or had a question about my research or writing. He consistently allowed my paper to be my own work and steered me in the right direction whenever he thought I needed it; but most importantly he was invested in the story and he believed in me.

I had many experiences along the way that included five years of research and two years writing a book. Researching the history of my family has taken to me to many places in two Territories and three States. I have met some amazing people, some of whom have become lifelong friends. I’ve been to more cemeteries, museums and State libraries than I can recall. I’ve handled historical diaries, read newspaper clippings, learnt about Trove and National Archives. I’ve met authors, historians and researchers I even presented at the National Historical Association Conference in Canberra as a non-academic – I think I am an academic now though! I’ve been to lectures and book launches.

My book is titled Minnie, Mum and Me - the Black Headed Snake. It is a deeply personal story and I wrote it for my family. To be honest I didn’t think anyone outside of family would be interested – I have since changed my mind. Our story is one that has significance for the history of this country. It is complex and untold; it is also personal and political and tells of the forcible child removal through race-based Government policies, and includes how we five women in my family over three generations were enslaved and put into institutions or adopted to non-Aboriginal families. The book was created as a family cultural artefact.

I have gained a stronger understanding of white frontier violence, the dispossession of ancestral lands, child removal and institutionalisation and adoption. I received A1 Honours results – deadly for a first-time Uni student. I loved the experience of researching with support, learning in an academic way and to having the ability to talk the truth, to have my voice heard where it hadn’t been heard before.

I have now been awarded the Lisa Bellear Academic Scholarship to complete my PhD that will extend from my Honours work. This new journey of study will allow to me further research and identify new and innovative evidenced-based methods to regenerate new songlines based on Aboriginal traditions that address intergenerational trauma through healing practices.

I will draw on my own lived experiences and personal narrative, archival sources and interviews and seek to work with a range of First Peoples who may want to engage in the creation of family and community artefacts. Bring on 2020.

Kath Apma in graduation clothing

Contact us

For details about our Indigenous Academic Unit staff, activities and support, please read our Moondani Balluk information.

We have culturally safe spaces on campus for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students:

Footscray Park Campus
Building G, Level 1, Room G121

Footscray Nicholson Campus
Building N, Room N110

St Albans Campus
Building 4, Room 4S109

Werribee Campus
Portable J106

Send us an email, or give us a call to find out more about the ways we can support you.

Marcus Brooke
Aboriginal Student Support Coordinator, Moondani Balluk
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 4914

Meriki McCrae-Cooper
Aboriginal Student Officer (VU Polytechnic/TAFE)
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 2188

Rhiannon Madden
Aboriginal Student Officer (VU Polytechnic/TAFE)
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 3 9919 5197