Bachelor of Commerce student Cameron McBroom shares his journey and his advice for young Indigenous students thinking about going to university
“Yuwa, ngayuku yini Cameron McBroom. Ngayulu Wangkai Yamatji. Ngayuku ngurra tjukurrpa Wangkatja. Ngaliku tjukurrpa mularrpa. Ngayuku tjaa Wangkatja.
Yuwa, that’s how you say hello in my Grandmother’s father’s language. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Wangkatja, I’ll give you a translation.
Hello, my name is Cameron McBroom. I am proud Wangkai Yamatji, [and I also have Scottish and English heritage]. My country is Wangkatja country, [in the heart of Western Australia]. Our dreaming is alive. With our language and our country, our people will survive.”
And so began McBroom’s speech to an audience of over 600 influential alumni and business leaders at the University of Melbourne’s (UoM) Faculty of Business & Economics annual Foundation Dinner, held at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), earlier in March.
Speaking to the crowd and representing the University’s business and economics students that night was something the final year Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) student certainly would have never predicted four years ago.
All the way from WA
“I come from a small town in the West Australian Goldfields, Kalgoorlie, which had been my home for almost 20 years, until the travel bug hit me.”
After travelling extensively while working in parts of Europe, including Hungary and Spain, McBroom set his sights on studying management at UoM. “To be honest, I didn’t know much about the University besides it being #1 in Australia. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to get in with my grades from high school, so like any good management student, I found a loophole,” he said. After starting a degree at another university and working hard to lift his grades over the semester, McBroom successfully transferred into the Bachelor of Commerce. His goal, besides keeping up with his studies, was to travel even more!
While he received offers from other Universities, one of the main reasons he chose Melbourne was for its Exchange program, which allows students to spend a Semester, or even a year, at a university overseas. Cost can often stop students exploring these global opportunities, but McBroom, like many BCom students, received a scholarship – in his case, the Lin Martin Melbourne Global Scholarship – to help support his overseas studies.
“I was accepted into Lund University in Sweden, which was an amazing experience and the highlight of my BCom. The different teaching and learning styles there have broadened my knowledge and ways of thinking and doing that I would not have realised by wholly completing my Bachelor in Australia. I also loved the student life, with its mix of tradition and fun. I could tell you so many stories of crazy student formal balls, with people dressed in their finest, only to jump up onto tables and sing – it was crazy, and I loved it!”
Asked about his experience at Melbourne as an Indigenous student, McBroom is confident that the University is on the right track with the work of Murrup Barak, Melbourne’s Institute for Indigenous Development. The Institute is often seen as a home-away-from-home for Indigenous students, and the hard work of both the Institute and the students, according to McBroom, is really transforming the University into “a place where we can learn, strive and thrive.”
McBroom is passionate about engaging young Indigenous people in learning and offers some honest advice to high school students thinking about their future plans:
“With Indigenous university graduates having the same employment rates as other graduates, why wouldn’t you encourage and support Indigenous students to study at a tertiary level?
To be honest, UoM isn't for everyone. As Indigenous people, we have commitments to family, and cultural obligations back home, so there may be other universities closer to where you live and other forms of learning that are available.
However, if you’re willing to work hard, UoM is committed to increasing the number of Indigenous students studying here and ensuring they are supported and engaged throughout their journey. Murrup Barak provide a holistic approach to support for Indigenous students across all disciplines. This support includes assistance with enrolment, housing, financial aid, and academic success, all in a culturally-safe space and manner. Cameron McBroom
If you believe that university is the right thing for you, in the right time of your life, then reach out to Murrup Barak and they can help make that happen. If you don't get the right ATAR to enter directly into your field of study, Access Melbourne provides alternative options and pathways that allow you to still study what you want to do.
“Get in contact with Murrup Barak, apply to come on the Murrup Barak Experience and Leadership Camp or the Open Day Camp, and get in contact with me.”
Back in the crowded dining hall of the NGV, McBroom stands tall on the podium delivering his Foundation Dinner speech. The audience is hushed and listening attentively, respectful of the candour and sincerity with which he’s shared his story tonight:
“My personal vision is to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that are completely autonomous, economically stable, and environmentally sustainable. When Indigenous people have economic independence and autonomy over their own decisions, they then have the tools to create and develop organisations that benefit Indigenous people in areas such as health, education, and employment.
Only then can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live a life free of poverty, in good health, and in flourishing communities on our traditional homelands. Only then can we all be proud of our shared history, and only then can we be one cohesive society, united under the Southern Cross."