Completing a degree in International Development, specialising in Indigenous Knowledge, was filled with obstacles for Jacinta Barbour, but she was determined.

An Eastern Arrernte and Warumungu descendent from Central Australia, Jacinta relocated from Alice Springs to Adelaide to begin her studies at the University of Adelaide in 2015.

Living in a share house, whist looking for work and studying, she began to use up her savings during her second year of study and had to return to live with her parents in Darwin.

Studying externally and cross-institutionally at Charles Darwin University, Jacinta saved enough money to move back to Adelaide and live on campus in her third year.

‘I received an Indigenous Cadetship at the Department of Treasury and Finance in Darwin,’ says Barbour.

‘They paid for my fortnightly allowances (therefore I went off Abstudy) and I did paid work placements during the semester breaks.’

‘Unfortunately, I only did two work-placements before I was no longer eligible.’

‘I decided to move to Alice Springs and undertake my studies externally.’

The scholarship only supports students when studying on campus so the move to Alice Springs meant that she needed to work full-time until she finished her studies and gained her degree.

Jacinta now works at First Nations Media Australia as the Events and Member Services Officer – a place she used to work at as a trainee Administration Officer in 2012 when the organisation was Indigenous Remote Communications Associations.

‘The great thing about this experience was that the University of Adelaide was very flexible, offering some external units and the option of cross-institutional study.’

‘If these options weren’t available for me, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been able to complete my degree.’

‘I really did enjoy living in Adelaide and studying on campus with other students.’

‘I wish I had been able to complete my whole degree in Adelaide. While there, I had a tutor through the Indigenous Tutorial Program, which was just fantastic because I only have Year 8 schooling and they really helped me with my writing.’ 

‘On the flip side, my grades were affected while I juggled both a job and my studies when I was living in Darwin and Alice Springs.’

‘I think studying externally is a lot harder than being on campus because you have less support and less face-to-face time with staff.’

‘But I was determined and my parents were very supportive and I got there in the end.’

Jacinta is an Eastern Arrernte and Warumungu descendent from Central Australia. Alkupitja is her grandmother’s country, which is a family outstation north of Alice Springs. Born in Darwin, Jacinta lived in multiple remote communities in the top end. Jacinta has worked in various roles in policy, governance and planning.