The inaugural Garrurru Scholarship winner will use his time studying at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific to help drive Australia’s water reform agenda.
James Newman will take up a Masters of Environmental Management and Development at the College’s Crawford School of Public Policy under the scholarship, which aims to increase Indigenous university enrolments.
Newman said he was honoured to be named as the first Garrurru scholar and to have the opportunity to work on issues that are close to his heart.
“Being awarded this scholarship means not having to worry about financial issues. But there is another upside, in that I can concentrate more on my studies on an increasingly important issue – water management.
“I am a Wiradjuri koori and grew up in Wellington and spent many years in Warren. Both townships are on the banks of the Wambool River, now known as the Macquarie. My father was a shearer and came from Kalari River, or Lachlan as it is now known.
“For me, healthy river systems are vital for so many reasons, but the hydrological cycle as a whole including groundwater should share equal importance. Water is the basis of a healthy environment, which lays the foundation for a healthy economy, and of course, our social well-being is greatly improved in the process.
“So many industries rely on our rivers and aquifers to produce goods for human health, and they need to be managed adequately including robust policy and regulations for our own prosperity.”
Newman added that the Crawford School at ANU was the best place to study how Australia’s fragile water systems could be best managed and maintained.
“After many years of practical work on environmental management field, I gradually became more interested in how environmental policy was developed. I also recognised the importance of economics and social factors in policy development.
“When I looked at the different institutions offering policy development courses, ANU stood out with the courses available at Crawford School. My earlier studies at ANU played a significant part in me being offered a position with the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. This degree fits in with my current employment in water reform.”
Launched by the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific in 2012, the Garrurru Scholarship provides ongoing financial and pastoral support to Indigenous students studying at the postgraduate level. As the first recipient of the award, Newman had some clear advice for other Indigenous scholars considering further study.
“University has given me a greater understanding of the world in which we live,” he said.
“Going to university does not mean Indigenous people have to forego any cultural or community-based ideals. Higher-level education can develop students’ current world-views alongside those of other cultures. In the process it helps to broaden ideas, improve communication skills and can help to break down cultural barriers.”
For more information about the Garrurru Scholarship visit the College's website.