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Following his passion for the land

Name: Khalu
Age: 19
Graduated: Year 12, 2018, Ipswich Grammar School
Employment: Technician Officer Traineeship at the CSIRO
From: Palm Island, QLD

Khalu’s boarding school journey started when he was 13 years old. A proud Bwgcolman from Palm Island, he began boarding at Ipswich Grammar School in Year 7 in 2013.

“I went to boarding school because my Nan thought it would be a better opportunity for me. It was really good. I made lots of new friends and met a lot of new people that I really liked.”

Khalu thrived and threw himself into sport.

“I did a lot of sports, activities and things to keep you busy. From Year 7 I started off playing cricket, then the next year I followed up with volleyball, rugby then soccer. I played all of them for the past six years at school.”

Through his studies, Khalu also found a passion for agriculture. Learning about his values and interests, and setting goals in his career sessions with his AIEF Pathways Advisor, he decided to pursue something in that field as a post-school pathway.

“In my career sessions we talked about my interests, what I would like to do in future, where I think I would like to be in two, five, 10 years down the road. I had been doing quite a lot of agriculture and I liked the experience, and saw how it could be a career, so I decided to go with that.”

Neither of Khalu’s parents finished school, so completing Year 12 in 2018 was a huge milestone.

“It was very exciting for me. I was proud to see myself graduate, I didn’t expect that to happen. My Nan was very proud too. She saw me go through some tough times so she was very grateful that I finished, and she was proud of me and how far I’ve come from Year 7 to Year 12. It was a good opportunity she gave me.”

Khalu applied for a traineeship with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Townsville and, to his surprise, he was offered the role.

“It was my first interview ever, and then I got in! I was just trying to remember to be calm during the whole thing, talk normally. I’m usually a shy person but I had to open up, it really got me out of my shell. They were impressed with how I presented myself.”

Along with career sessions, Khalu found attending the AIEF Learn It! Live It! Work Readiness Workshops in Year 11 and 12 to be especially worthwhile in helping him develop personal skills and learn techniques for entering the workforce.

“In Year 11 we went to Brisbane and Cathy Freeman was there to give a speech. She talked about how she got to where she was, doing athletics and the Olympics and all that. I really liked it. I enjoyed her talking and telling us about her story. I could how see some of her lessons could work for me. I followed some of her advice and it really helped me.”

Khalu (far right) with AIEF Executive Director Andrew Penfold, fellow 2018 AIEF Scholarship Graduates John, Traeden and Thomas, and Ipswich Grammar School Indigenous Support Officer Jackson Weir-White.
Khalu (far right) with AIEF Executive Director Andrew Penfold, fellow 2018 AIEF Scholarship Graduates John, Traeden and Thomas, and Ipswich Grammar School Indigenous Support Officer Jackson Weir-White.

Khalu is now completing a Certificate III in Laboratory Skills as part of a two-year traineeship to become a qualified Technician Officer.

“I’ll be working in the lab, working in the field, working with cattle, sampling soil, grass and seaweed. It’s a really fun job. There’s a lot of great people here and it’s a very good place to work. If they offered me a permanent job at the end of my traineeship, I would definitely take it.”

Khalu encourages young Indigenous students to embrace all the experiences offered by an AIEF Scholarship.

“AIEF can really help people from remote areas to get better opportunities. It’s a chance to go to a good school, which can help you get a good job; to help you experience new things and to get a quality education.”

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We're very happy to have been able to support the Work Readiness Workshop and after meeting some of the AIEF students it's really clear what positive outcomes are being achieved.

AIEF Corporate Partner


The AIEF Scholarship Program and the AIEF Pathways Program are supported by the Australian Government in collaboration with individual, philanthropic and corporate supporters from the private sector.