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Million-dollar donation secures scholarships for Indigenous architecture students

A million-dollar donation will see a new scholarship established to fund Indigenous students study architecture at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

The Droga Indigenous Scholarship is worth up to $50,000 over five years at the UTS Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building across both undergraduate and postgraduate study. The awarded students will also take part in a summer internship program established specifically for the scholarship winners.

With additional support from UTS, the scholarship will aim to fund two scholarships in the first year with an additional two each year over five years. The goal is to support up to six undergraduate and four postgraduate architecture students by the end of the five year period.

The scholarship is a partnership between UTS, the Droga Family Foundation and is supported by the NSW Architects Registration Board (NSWARB) and Government Architect NSW. It has been established “with the aim to develop meaningful representation in Australian architecture of Indigenous professionals and supporting a thriving Indigenous contribution to architectural culture and production in Australia.”

Records from the NSWARB show only eight registered architects in the state identify as Indigenous and nationally, only 28 registered architects are Indigenous, according to the 2016 Census.

Michael McDaniel, UTS pro-vice chancellor (Indigenous Leadership and Engagement) and director of the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, said, “Indigenous architects have the potential to make a valuable contribution not only to their communities but to society as a whole, by bringing architectural skills and knowledge together with an understanding of culture, community and environment.”

The gift, totaling $1 million, comes from the Droga Family Foundation, which is also the benefactor of the Australian Institute of Architects Foundation’s Droga residency, a program that invites foreign architects to Australia on three-month-long study tours. Philanthropist Daniel Droga also gifted his Durbach Block Jaggers-designed apartment in Sydney’s Surry Hills for use during the residency.

The first two scholarships will be awarded in 2019. Each student will receive up to $50,000 over a maximum of five years over both a Bachelor of Design in Architecture and postgraduate study.

Anthony Burke, professor of architecture, added, “There is an enormous untapped wealth of Indigenous knowledge that has never made it across the threshold into architectural practice or environmental design.”

“An Indigenous perspective on architecture is a real source of inspiration and a resource for us as a discipline.”

NSWARB president Deborah Dearing said, “It’s so important that architecture is created by, with and for our entire community and recognizes the important contribution that the current generation of our first Australians can make.”

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