About time. Malcolm Smith has a graphic commentary on the matter. I put up a similar gallery in 2020
One of Australia's most prestigious universities has been praised for a crackdown on students 'rorting the system' by falsely claiming they are Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander.
The University of Sydney has drafted a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Status Policy which means undergraduates can no longer simply sign a statutory declaration to prove they have a First Nations background.
Instead, the university may force students to supply a 'letter of identity' from a local Aboriginal Land Council and complete the Commonwealth Government's three-part identity test.
Radio 2GB host Ben Fordham praised the university for introducing the measures and called on others to follow suit.
'Other organisations should introduce stronger checks too, because what we're seeing is wrong and it's fraudulent,' he said.
The changes come after lobbying from Aboriginal land councils which allege there has been a significant increase in people applying for the benefits.
The latest Census results released in June 2021 found a 25 per cent increase in Australians identifying as Indigenous.
Indigenous groups said the way the current system is being abused is 'embarrassing'. 'It's open fraud. We say to academic students: can they pass a paper without citing a verified source?' Aboriginal Land Council CEO Nathan Moran told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Michael Mansell, Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania chairman, said poor white people were falsely identifying as Indigenous in a move he called 'identity seeking'. "They don't attribute any value to their identity as a poor white person in Tasmania, so they are searching to attach themselves to something that has greater value and I think many of those people believe that's in being Aboriginal,' he said following the release of the Census results.
Fordham said students abusing the system for places in courses or more affordable degrees was 'wrong and fraudulent'. 'They are attending schools, they're getting jobs and taking away opportunities from people who grew up Indigenous,' the 2GB host said.
'People are falsely identifying as Indigenous when they're not - there are Indigenous voices calling out a fraud, and we should be listening to them.
'Sydney Uni should be congratulated and other organisations should be following suit. Because it's wrong and it's fraudulent. Some of the so-called First Nations people receiving benefits are as genuine as a three dollar note.'
A spokesperson for Sydney University said its review was not motivated by fraudulently claimed scholarships, but the institution wanted to ensure its program was 'in line with current community expectations'.
'[The review] was initiated in response to multiple expressions of community concern, particularly in relation to the use of statutory declarations, rather than any specific concerns about fraud,' they said.
'We are seeking feedback and further input from members of our own and the broader community, representative organisations and other universities on this culturally significant matter.'
The university has an enrolment of 0.9 per cent Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander students, which is below the national sector average of 1.72 per cent.
Students however believe the change in policy could result in at-need Indigenous people missing out on places because of the red tape around new enrolment.
'This new policy is likely to disproportionately affect Indigenous people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds,' a group of Indigenous students opposing the change said in a statement.
'In some circumstances students may come from abusive families, have been in foster care or for other reasons not be able to get family documentation to undergo the process that has been proposed.'
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