All Star girl on uni scholarship

Abelee Stanley from Murgon will study social science at Bond University on a scholarship. Picture: Cavan Flynn

A talented rugby league player who aspires to represent Australia and mentor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children has secured an Indigenous university scholarship.

Generous support from the Envato Foundation will allow Abelee Stanley to study a Diploma of Arts at Bond University.

The 18-year-old Murgon girl, who is the first in her family to embark on higher education, plans to then progress to a Bachelor of Social Science.

Ms Stanley was announced as a member of the first ever NRL Harvey Norman Women’s Indigenous All Stars team last Tuesday.

She is set to make her debut in the historic fixture at Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday, 20 February, 2021.

Ms Stanley is a talented sportswoman who was part of the Australian Sevens Rugby Development Squad in 2018 and the first Queensland under-18 women’s rugby league team.

Her ultimate sporting goal is to represent Australia and the All Stars is just one step closer.

However, she is also conscious of the impact her education can make in the First Nations community, crediting her academic success to the sacrifices her mother Judy made.

“My mum was involved in social work in an Indigenous community in foster care,“ she said.

“My older sister has also done social work and hearing from them has made me really interested.“

Judy is a single mother who raised five children by herself

“When I was younger I never realised how much she sacrificed for me, and now that I do I am forever grateful, she is amazing,“ Ms Stanley said.

Ms Stanley’s scholarship is part of a broader contribution from the Envato Foundation which will benefit Indigenous students from remote or rural communities.

The partnership will provide two 50 per cent scholarships for an undergraduate degree as well as two accommodation bursaries for students during their time at Bond University.

Ms Stanley has Aboriginal (Birri Gubba and Barunggam) and Torres Strait Islander (Mabuiag Island) heritage.

She is an alumni of The Glennie School and has worked for non-for-profit organisation Yalari, which provides scholarships for Indigenous students at some of Australia’s top high schools.

“Mum was overwhelmed and really proud of me when she heard I got the scholarship to Bond,“ Ms Stanley said.

“My pop John was never given the opportunity to go to university or do any sort of education and every chance he had he would push me to go for it, wanting me to do the best and do the things he couldn’t’ do.

“I am doing this for myself but I’m also doing it for them, it is very motivating.“

Chair of the Envato Foundation Board, Briany Kalms, said the scholarships were an important step in helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth access world-class tertiary education opportunities.

“We’re particularly excited about this partnership because it really closes the loop between secondary and tertiary education and it’s giving us the opportunity to continue to support a Yalari student on the next stage of their education.“

Vice President Engagement at Bond University, Catherine Marks, said 29 Indigenous students completed their program in 2020 alone and support from partners such as the Envato Foundation were critical to building on that record.

Watch Ms Stanley and the Women’s Indigenous All Stars team in action on Saturday, 20 February on the Nine Network, Fox League, 9Now or Kayo Sports.