Tania Searle, Flinders University:

I am grateful for receiving the 2018 Jerzy Zubrzycki Postgraduate Scholarship. The financial assistance the scholarship provided was a great relief in easing the costs of attending the conference.

Receiving the 2018 Jerzy Zubrzycki Award is an honour that will remain on CV. I thank TASA for recognising my work – the aim of which is to decolonise natural resource management cross-cultural collaborations and demonstrate the importance of prioritising Indigenous sovereignty. I continue with my PhD research knowing that my research can contribute to Australian sociology with the potential for influencing policy directions. As my research uses international case studies, it offers an opportunity to showcase Australian sociological outputs to the world.

I have completed my undergraduate and honours degree as a mature age student and single mother. The financial pressure has been difficult over the years. I am now in my third year of my PhD Candidature and the rewards are starting to materialise. The TASA Postgraduate Scholarship enabled me to travel to Melbourne from regional South Australia and attend my first TASA conference – with the conference fees covered and most of the accommodation (the Chen was an awesome place to stay). For this I am extremely grateful. However, being financially rewarded for years’ worth of study and dedication means more than simply easing the cost of travel. It means that I am valued. Thank you.

During the conference I made friends and connections with people whose work I have read and admired. There were also several people I met whose work I am not familiar with – meeting them expanded my networks and broadened ideas. I particularly enjoyed meeting keynote speaker Bronwyn Carlson and the members of the Indigenous Issues Thematic Group to which I belong. I sat in on presentations that provided useful content for my own work, and some presentations I sat in on purely for the interest and the joy of learning. Following the conference, I got busy online and formalised the connections I made by following people on social media, academic platforms, and sending a few emails.

The postgraduate day was of great benefit and again, I met some amazing thinkers. The mentoring session provided an opportunity to listen to accomplished academics tell positive stories about making their way through academia. This is a welcome relief amidst much doom and gloom about the state of our academic institutions under neoliberal business models and the casualisation of work. There is hope! There is the power of agency to push against social structures!

I look forward to many more years of productive and meaningful relationships with TASA and its members.

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