Bianca Manning started the University of Newcastle’s Bachelor of Social Work degree as she has a “passion for social justice for indigenous people, as well as working with young people”.
She was in the first of the graduation ceremonies on Thursday at the university’s Great Hall, where about 1250 students will accept their study honours over two consecutive days. It follows two days of ceremonies last week.
Born and bred in Newcastle, the former Kotara High School student has spent the past four years studying at the Callaghan campus.
The 23-year-old’s mum is a social worker, which helped inspire her career move.
“Early high school, I wanted to go into wildlife conservation,” she said. “But going through high school, I started learning more about my Aboriginal culture.
“I started really being troubled by a lot of the statistics I would hear about, and all the things Aboriginal communities were experiencing. I wanted to be able to learn a bit more about how to practically help people better.”
Ms Manning said her heritage comes from the Gomeroi Nation in north-west NSW around Mungindi, Moree and Warialdra. Four months of practical experience at Broken Hill helped her develop her knowledge.
“It was really broad community work,” she said. “Anything from school programs, playgroups, mental health support and preventative programs.
“While I was in Broken Hill I got to go to Wilcannia and I think there I really saw the benefits of empowerment approaches and local leadership.”
She hopes to work in the education sector.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.