VU Arts graduate Olivia Slater (Yamatji/Noongar) is making history as the first Indigenous Australian woman to undertake a PhD at Cambridge University.
“At 15 I left high school, and subsequently left home, and started working. I later left my home town of Perth and moved to Sydney, then Melbourne, and worked in a series of Indigenous-related roles at organisations including the ABC and Koorie Heritage Trust.
VU’s culture of equitable education allowed me to thrive. As part of my degree, I connected with Melbourne’s western suburbs Aboriginal community and worked as Indigenous program producer at Footscray Community Arts Centre. I also travelled to the US to visit with First Nations groups and learned about Native American sites of resistance.
After completing my honours degree at VU, I was one of three Indigenous Australians awarded the 2016 Charlie Perkins Trust Scholarship. My scholarship enabled me to accept my offer at Cambridge University (UK), where I moved with my two children and husband to complete my Masters degree in Social Anthropology.
In 2017 my academic dreams were realised when I applied for and was accepted into a PhD program at Cambridge – exploring impacts of Indigenous Australian theatre in secondary schools.
I hope my work will help inform and develop future curriculums, set better outcomes and help students to have a critical eye.
I can’t imagine what my life would look like now if I hadn’t studied at VU – I’d probably still be working and raising my children, waiting for the perfect moment to study.”