Oorala News and Events

The Oorala Aboriginal Centre hosts events during the year for students and the community including seminars, workshops, morning teas and celebrations.


12 December 2019 - A passion for learning at the heart of first-in-family’s success: Kamilaroi man James Dries took the plunge and enrolled in his first degree, a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science, at the University of New England. “.. once I learned how study and university processes worked, I realised I had a knack for learning. I graduated with a distinction.”

UNE Connect

Naidoc Week 2020

Sunday 5 July to Sunday 12 July

Always Was, Always Will Be.

The NAIDOC 2020 theme - Always Was, Always Will Be. - recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.

NAIDOC Week 2020 will be held from Sunday 5 July to Sunday 12 July and is an opportunity for all Australians to come together to celebrate the rich history, diverse cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the oldest continuing cultures on the planet.

Always Was, Always Will Be. acknowledges this nation’s story began at the dawn of time and didn’t begin with documented European contact.

NAIDOC 2020 invites all Australians to embrace and acknowledge the true history of this country – a history which dates back thousands of generations.

The very first footprints on this continent were those belonging to First Nations peoples and we have maintained ongoing spiritual and cultural connections to the land and sea.

All Australians should celebrate has that we have the world’s oldest oral stories and that our First Peoples engraved the world’s first maps, made the earliest paintings of ceremonies, invented unique technologies and built and engineered structures that predate well-known ancient sites such as the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were Australia’s first explorers, our first navigators, first engineers, first farmers, first botanists, first scientists, first diplomats, astronomers and artists.

It’s about seeing, hearing and learning the 65,000+ year history of this country – a country that was criss-crossed by generations of brilliant Nations.

Oorala and UNE will host an opening ceremony and an Elders event.


Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture

Frank ArchibaldThe Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture is an annual event held in honour of Mr Frank Archibald, a revered Aboriginal community member of the Armidale area. Frank Archibald was renowned for his knowledge and interest in all issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly education.

The Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture has been held as part of the University of New England’s Lecture Series since 1986 and is dedicated to Frank Archibald, his family and Aboriginal people of the New England region. The Lecture is presented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speakers who are leading professionals in fields such as education, law, social justice, government and the arts.

There have been over 30 lectures to date, the material from many of these can be found on this Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture Series page.


Stories in the Media

A passion for learning at the heart of first-in-family’s success: Kamilaroi man James Dries took the plunge and enrolled in his first degree, a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science, at the University of New England. “I was the first in my family to attend university, but once I learned how study and university processes worked, I realised I had a knack for learning. I graduated with a distinction last year.” (12 December 2019)

Indigenous scholarship winner explores study options overseas: Anaiwan woman Grace Gillard is exploring postgraduate study options in the United States of America and the United Kingdom on an Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour scholarship from the Aurora Education Foundation. (4 November 2019)

Scholarship takes alum to Cambridge: UNE alumna, Nina Cass, has been awarded a prestigious Cambridge Australia Scholarship. The Cambridge Australia Charlie Perkins Scholarship for 2019. This Scholarship is designed to support Indigenous Australians who have the potential to become leaders in their field of study and in their communities and are awarded on the basis of academic merit. (12 Sept 2019)

Peer support smooths the way for TRACKS students: While Dawn Lewis is a high-achieving student her experience at university has not always been smooth sailing.  She admits to being a bit thrown when Program Coordinator and TRACKS Tertiary Preparation Program Academic, Kate Carter, approached her to be a mentor in the program. (24 July 2019)

Making TRACKS towards her degree: Balie McCormack's journey towards tertiary education had an inauspicious start but is firm testament to her determination and ability to grow and rise to new challenges. (21 June 2019)

May sees an influx of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students visit UNE: Together UNE, Oorala and AIME support our kids to be proud of who they are and to explore every opportunity presented to them such as these unique UNE Indigenous learning experiences. (20 May 2019)

Opportunity to make a difference: UNE criminology graduate, Kaitlyn Sawtell, always knew that one day she wanted to be in a position where she could make a difference. (7 May 2019)

From shearing shed to medical graduate: Kerby is the first female Aboriginal student and only the second Aboriginal medical student to graduate from UNE’s School of Rural Medicine since the introduction of the Joint Medical Program in 2008. What makes Kerby’s achievement even more special is that she did not finish high school and had to complete a TAFE tertiary preparation course before she could consider tertiary education. (25 October 2018)

First-in-family “had a go”, and graduated: “The first year was really, really hard and I failed quite a few units, but I hit back in my second year and passed every unit after that,” Michael said. “It was a case of finding my feet, and the style of study and organisation that suited me. It’s been an up-and-down ride, but I knew from first-hand experience the positive difference that teachers could make." (24 April 2018)


Oorala Research Seminar Series

The Sydney Wars - book coverHistory and truth-telling - The Sydney Wars
Dr Stephen Gapps

‘it seems extraordinary that, after 230 years, the myths of benign colonisation and absence of Aboriginal resistance during the first decades of British settlement at Sydney are still firmly entrenched in the Australian narrative’. (Lyndall Ryan 2018)

Dr Stephen Gapps has taught Public History at the University of Technology, Sydney. He is currently a curator at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

12:00 - 2:00pm, Tuesday 11 September, 2018
Oorala Aboriginal Centre Lecture Theatre

The Oorala Aboriginal Centre, and the Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education, invite the UNE and Armidale community.


Myall Creek and Beyond 2018

  • Friday 8 Oorala Bus to Myall Creek event posterJune: a Myall Creek and Beyond one-day symposium at the Oorala Aboriginal Centre at the University of New England exploring the historical, legal and cultural significance of the massacre;
  • Sunday 10 June: the 180th anniversary memorial event at the Myall Creek Memorial near the site of the massacre (near Bingara).

Each year hundreds of people from across the country gather to commemorate the unprovoked massacre of 28 Wirrayaraay women, children and old men by a group of stockmen on Myall Creek Station in 1838. This year marks the 180th anniversary of this horrific event.

Although there were many other massacres of Indigenous people that occurred during the Frontier Wars across Australia, this one had special significance because it was the only time when white men were, arrested, charged and hung for the massacre of Aborigines, following a police investigation.


Join our community

Oorala holds a number of community engagement events throughout the year. If you, or your organisation, would like to be included on our invitation lists for upcoming events please contact us.