Yarnin’ Money – PhD style with Eddie Buli

Catching up with family, Professor Kerry Arabena at The University of Melbourne, Indigenous PhD Familiarisation Program.

Catching up with family, Professor Kerry Arabena at The University of Melbourne, Indigenous PhD Familiarisation Program. (Photo courtesy of @ArabenaKerry – Twitter)

A few months back, I saw that the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health (The University of Melbourne) was advertising for Expressions of Interest (EOI), to attend the inaugural Indigenous PhD Familiarisation Program.  After a few enquiries, I thought I would submit my EOI, utilising the Yarnin’ Money Program as my proposed area of research.

The manner in which we’ve designed and deliver the Yarnin’ Money Program has been based on using the yarn of old cultural ways of passing on knowledge to connect with new knowledge in financial literacy, where our unique delivery style that makes those meaningful connections between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’.  In essence, the Yarnin’ Money Program is founded in Indigenous ways of knowing.  Having delivered the training now for a year and a half, we believe that – based on those cultural ways of ‘knowing’ – the program works.  It has further received good evaluation feedback and as a Trainer, I’ve witnessed light-bulb moments for participants.  But I’ve been curious about how to substantiate this belief, by possibly examining Yarnin’ Money further, through my own study.

So I threw my hat in the ring, with the attitude I’ve got nothing to lose and only something to gain. Well, in an unexpected surprise, I was offered a placement to attend the national workshop down in Melbourne earlier this month.

The Familiarisation Program is about making pathways for Indigenous people academically who are at a phase in their life, where pursuit for a higher research degree is attainable over 5 years.

I went to the workshops with my own expectations about what advice and direction I could ascertain regarding the Yarnin’ Money Program. From day one the workshop had a high engagement and interaction that was a mix of intense interaction and discussion.  It was like a spinning washing machine on my shoulders as I lay on my bed back at the accommodation each afternoon – and I mean this in a good way!

The sharing of ideas, an in-depth question and discussion period, listening and learning from the different academic presenters and what’s really involved with undertaking a PhD such as: the barriers, time management, decrease in money for a while, perhaps relocating, the motivations and challenges… just to name a few. A lot of my dormant brain cells got a quick and refreshing awakening!

To see the enthusiasm, encouragement and support available for Indigenous people at the University of Melbourne, out-weighed whatever overwhelming feelings I initially experienced down there. The Workshop brought out a depth of thought and required action for the Yarnin’ Money Program, and in myself. I also found some more relevant literature, academic staff, disciplines and direction that can link back to the Yarnin’ Money Program. I immensely enjoyed my time at the Workshop and felt privileged to be a participant of the Indigenous PhD Familiarisation Program, as I reflected upon our old people who fought, endured and struggled to make these opportunities possible for us.

“I went down with an idea and I came back with so much more!”