Meet the 2019 St Catherine’s Old Girls’ Fellow

It was an honour (and shock) to be awarded the 2019 SCOGA Fellowship and I am excited to be able to pursue my studies and research in a field that I am very passionate about.

Since leaving St Catherine’s in 1990, almost 30 years ago now, I have continued my relationship with the school and have returned on occasion to speak for NAIDOC week assembly as well as to provide Indigenous cultural support and advice. When the opportunity came up to apply for the SCOGA Fellowship last year, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew I would have some tough competition, but I figured there was no harm in trying!

I have been doing my own research and reading on anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion for many years and it is an area I am very passionate about. I come from a family of strong social justice activists, so advocating for equity and equality is in my blood.

I have wanted to study anti-racism in the United States for many years. The area of racism prevention in Australia is still in its infancy compared to the USA, and the USA has a long history of consistent, well-funded racial justice programs and research that has led to a very evolved approach to anti-racism focusing on long-term solutions. This is not the case in Australia. There are some very effective initiatives to be found in the USA that Australia can learn from.

Thanks to the SCOGA Fellowship, I will be traveling to Maryland and New York, USA to attend the Leadership for Diversity Institute and the Anti-Racist Alliance in August this year.
As Australia continues to become more of a multi-cultural and diverse society, there is an increased need for us as a society to value and welcome similarities and differences among others as well as the ability to examine our own unconscious biases that impact our interactions with others.

We live in a diverse society that still struggles with daily practices of racism and bias. Systemic racism persists because privilege and oppression are built into the social institutions of our society. As an Indigenous woman, I have experienced first-hand the impact of racism on an individual, community and systemic level.

This fellowship will enable me the opportunity to develop my leadership in the area of Anti-racism, diversity, equity and Inclusion. I look forward to creating a platform that fosters culturally competent, inclusive and safe spaces in schools, organisations, and government departments.

It is my greatest intention to make a meaningful and impactful contribution to my community and the greater community at large.

Yolanda Finette (’90)

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