La Trobe celebrates Fulbright Scholar

La Trobe University graduate, Blayne Welsh, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship to study in the United States.

Mr Welsh, who completed his Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in Theatre and Drama, is a First Nations man descended from the Wailwan people of western New South Wales.

Mr Welsh said being named a Fulbright scholar is not only an honour, but an opportunity to give back to the broader Indigenous community.

“My father was a member of the stolen generation and as such there’s a very large disconnect within my family’s cultural heritage and lineage,” Mr Welsh said.

“It’s important for me to try and bridge that gap and one way I’m able to do this is through my academic journey.

“The Fulbright Scholarship gives me a chance to have a much stronger voice to advocate for Indigenous rights, and the preservation and continuation of Indigenous performance and practices.”

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La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar congratulated Mr Welsh on securing a student exchange opportunity through one of the most prestigious scholarship programs in the world.

“Blayne has become an integral member of our University community, and through his studies, has emphasised the true impact and purpose of Indigenous performance,” Professor Dewar said.

“We are proud to have Blayne as part of our La Trobe alumni community and wish him all the best in his future studies.”

Mr Welsh’s research and work examines the nature of contemporary Indigenous theatre making and its connection with historical pre-colonial practices.

His ambition is to use his Fulbright scholarship to expand his PhD research in the United States in the fields of performance studies, educational theatre and drama therapy.

“I intend to research some of the performance practices of Native Americans, African Americans and first nations in Canada,” Mr Welsh said.

“I would like to build a larger, broader toolkit in understanding how other first nations people use their performance practices to maintain their culture in a present-day setting.”

Last year marked La Trobe’s largest completion rate of Indigenous students, with a graduating cohort of 81.

About Blayne Welsh

As well as being one of 66 talented Australians to be recognised as a Fulbright Scholar in 2019, Mr Welsh is a BlackWright Creator at the Ilbijerri Theatre Company.

During his studies at La Trobe, Mr Welsh was an active member of the University’s theatre and film program and he espoused the benefits of the Ngarn-gi Bagora Indigenous Centre.

“At La Trobe, I constantly had opportunities to perform and explore theatre,” Mr Welsh said.

“In addition to this, one of the most valued aspects of university life was La Trobe’s Ngarn-gi Bagora Indigenous Centre.

“It’s one of the best and finest Indigenous Centres I’ve been part of. I’m grateful to the amazing staff who have helped build an incredible community. I feel it allows students to work productively and feel supported and culturally safe.”

Mr Welsh congratulated La Trobe on its Wominjeka module, which equips every new undergraduate student with a basic understanding of Indigenous history, culture and customs.

Media contact: Dragana Mrkaja – 0447 508 171 – d.mrkaja@latrobe.edu.au

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