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Writing wrongs – Indigenous student off to Cambridge but heart’s still home

Published:01 September 2016

Recent CQUni graduate Allanah Hunt is off to study for her PhD in Cambridge

Budding writer Allanah Hunt is keen to make a profession of her craft so she can spotlight issues affecting contemporary Australia, including pressing issues faced by the Aboriginal community.

Allanah focused on Aboriginal deaths in custody during her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) studies, recently completed at CQUniversity.

She’s due to arrive at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge in late September to focus on PhD studies using ‘transformative works’ as a platform to explore contemporary issues and certain questions, such as racism.

“I’m hoping to use the lenses of media and perhaps politics,” she says.

Allanah accepts that the issue of Aboriginal deaths in custody is a complex one but says it’s clear that the “stereotyping used to justify such deaths and ignoring of facts to support wayward theories” needs to be handled better.

“Despite the sympathetic language of the most recent Royal Commission, it still falls back to the premise that Aboriginal people die more frequently in custody because of health or suicidal thoughts despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary,” Allanah says.

“Truthfully, the entire system needs an overhaul because a justice system cannot function properly when police are investigating police. I think that would be the first change that has to be made to try to get the investigations on the right track and give the families the closure they deserve.”

Allanah’s study journey has certainly benefitted from an Arrow Energy Go Further Indigenous Tertiary Scholarship valued at $10,000 a year.

“The Arrow Energy scholarship has enabled me to concentrate solely on my studies at CQUniversity without being worried about financial debts,” she says.

“I believe it has allowed me to get better grades because I have not had to take on extra outside work to try to make ends meet, so this scholarship is extremely meaningful to me.”

While preparing for her trip to Cambridge this year, Allanah found time to visit Hawaii to present her Honours thesis at the North American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA).

As an undergraduate, Allanah received a 'highly commended' for her young adult fantasy novel, Lyoness: The Inhabitation, in the national Kuril Dhagun Indigenous writing awards.

“This year, also been working on publishing one of my previous four novels, attending a pitching event, which has allowed me to submit to two publishers and an agent. It’s just waiting for some answers now!

“I’ve also been doing quite a bit of creative writing in Transformative Works lately, anonymously online. I’ve been connecting with a lot of readers who have suffered from sadness and depression where they have talked to me about how my stories have helped them deal with certain things.  It has been a truly wonderful experience for me where I felt like my writing is making some sort of difference in the short-term.”

Allanah still finds time to play music with her family’s band, The Huntsmen.

“We have been quite busy lately with NAIDOC gigs and just recently played at a high school for the first time in celebrating NAIDOC week. It was a wonderful gig and a great chance to connect with the students there, seeing what they aspire to be,” she says.

Allanah says her CQUniversity Bachelor of Arts degree experience changed her outlook “enormously”.

“CQUniversity inspired me to push myself harder to where I decided to take my studies further than a Bachelor. This whole experience has greatly improved my academic skills, boosted my confidence to branch out into other fields and has widened my career aspirations.”

* Arrow Energy’s goal is to continue to support scholarship holders as they progress through their degrees, and where relevant, provide pathways to career development or employment. Arrow is committed to building mutually-beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that facilitate long-term social and economic development.  In May 2013, Arrow was the first CSG company in Queensland to launch a Reconciliation Action Plan: the university scholarships program is just one initiative from this plan.

If you are interested in partnering with CQUniversity please contact our Development Team on 07 4923 2785 or by email advancement@cqu.edu.au .