Elle Richards | Student | Master of Education Research

After being saddened by the lack of Indigenous content in classrooms, Elle chose to pursue the Master of Education (Research) in order to change this. On choosing the MGSE as her place of study, she shares, "I spoke to two Indigenous lecturers at MGSE who made me realise that MGSE was where I needed to be as an Indigenous Educator." Elle is also the Collette Tayler Indigenous Education Scholarship recipient which she hopes will help her to achieve her goal of designing a program so other educators feel more comfortable to engage with Indigenous arts, culture and knowledge in Australian classrooms.

Q: Can you please briefly outline your life prior to studying this program?

I grew up in Darwin in the Northern Territory on Larrakia Land. I’m a Gamilaroi woman from Moree on my Dad's side but I grew up with the Larrakia mob in Darwin. I attended Darwin High School. I then attended performing arts school in Ballarat at the Arts Academy, Federation University.

Q: Why did you choose to study at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education?

There was fantastic support from faculty when I was exploring course options and paths. There was lots of direction and advice as to what the best choice was for me.

Q: Why did you choose to study your program?

As a teacher I have been saddened by the lack of Indigenous content in classrooms across Melbourne. I wanted to develop a program to help educators feel more comfortable using and engaging with Indigenous arts and culture in the classroom. I spoke to two Indigenous lecturers at MGSE who made me realise that MGSE was where I needed to be as an Indigenous Educator. MGSE would help make that goal a reality.

Q: Do you mind sharing how the Collette Tayler Indigenous Education scholarship has helped you?

Having a scholarship meant I was able to focus entirely on my research. Given I have a chronic illness (kidney transplant recipient) and limited energy, this was a crucial component of me being able to study full time. I was honoured to receive a scholarship whose namesake was both a female educator and a huge supporter of Indigenous Education. I like to think that the research I produce is something she would be proud to be associated with.

Explore our range of scholarships available for Indigenous students here at the University of Melbourne via Murrup Barak.

Q: Are you enjoying studying at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education?

MGSE have been beyond supportive and have helped shape things to allow for my chronic health issues without judgement. The MGSE building is lovely and the teachers are fantastically engaging.

Q: What’s the most valuable/rewarding aspect of your program?

Learning from lecturers whose work and research are at the forefront of education development is hugely beneficial for students.

Q: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting the course?

I had anxiety about being older than other students but it turned out age is irrelevant as the age spectrum of students at MGSE is huge. It doesn’t matter if you are a mature aged student or a fresh graduate.

Q: Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I am a member of University of Melbourne Music Theatre Association and was the Company Manager in 2016. I worked at the Uni Melb Union House Theatre as the Digital Archivist in the MUST Project from 2015- 2017 during which I curated an exhibition for Shakespeare 400 which then went on to be a  part of the After Shakespeare exhibition at the Bailliue library.

I was a resident at Queens College University of Melbourne 2013 – 2019. I have also received and been nominated for some awards over the past few years: University of Melbourne performing award - Keith Macartney Prize 2015 (won); Louise Homfrey Trust Prize 2015 (nomination); and the UMSU Creative Arts Department Award 2014 (won).

Q: How do you hope your course will help your career progression?

I think learning from academics who have, and are, involved in directly shaping the current curriculum, aids me in developing research that has strong potential to be used in classrooms across Australia.

Q: What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?

Become Dr Elle and teach young educators about engaging safely with Indigenous Cultural Knowledges and promote ongoing commitment to this practice in all Australian education.

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying for your scholarship?

If you’re unsure about anything contact the faculty and chat with someone about questions you have. There are no dumb questions. They can help you navigate and find for the right scholarships for you.

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