Australian-Pacific students unite to continue beating the odds

Pacific Islander students in Australia

Australian-Pacific students unite to continue beating the odds

Photo credit: Charlie Faleolo (WSU Student)
Story by Mary Harm

Research conducted by Western Sydney University (WSU) show that Pacific Islander (PI) communities are less likely to attend university in comparison to the general Australian population. Despite the statistics, young PI students across the nation are breaking stereotypes, with many being the first in their families to attend university.

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During their mid-year break, PI university students from nine universities across New South Wales and Queensland gathered at WSU to participate in the Australian Universities Pacific (AUPAC) Tournament. Through sport, fellowship and cultural performances, PI university students were able to enhance their social networks and encourage and inspire each other to continue pursuing their studies.

Check out a video from the event, produced by the QUT Pasifika Association, below!

Bronwyn Williams, member of The Pasifika Achievement To Higher Education (PATHE) team, the organising body of AUPAC, acknowledged the many struggles PI university students face.

AUPAC is a way to create opportunities for developing social capital because we wanted to provide students with something meaningful during their university journey.

“Our PATHE motto is ‘when one achieves, we all succeed’, and this speaks volumes about why programs like PATHE are invaluable to the Pacific community,” she said.

Pacific Islander students in Australia Photo credit: Charlie Faleolo (WSU Student)

The University of Queensland South Pacific Islander Association (UQSPIA) won the overall sporting component.

Naomi Faatuai, a student at UQ, chose to participate in AUPAC for the opportunity to meet likeminded individuals who may have experienced similar challenges as she did at university.

“The AUPAC experience overall made me so excited for the future ahead, being able to bare witness to strong and intelligent Pacific Island students uplifting one another and proudly showcasing their culture in an environment that has rarely witnessed the power of the pacific through music, culture, sport and education,” she explained.

Pacific Islander students in Australia
Photo credit: Facebook/PATHE

Aspiring secondary teacher, Hatoa Sweet, studying at Queensland University of Technology says AUPAC was undoubtedly the most positive experience a PI student could ever receive.

“I have learnt from this experience that to succeed you can’t do it alone, you need to have others who will build you up for the positives, expose your flaws and work on them with you,” he said.

Get more amazing stories of positive multicultural achievements and more.


Mr Sweet also encourages other Pacific youth to seek out their roots, no matter how distant they may feel from their culture.

“Understand that you have this rich cultural heritage that you should be proud to embrace. Find ways to be involved because it will empower you in ways you had no idea possible.”

Pacific Islander students in Australia
Photo credit: Charlie Faleolo (WSU Student)

AUPAC 2018 participating universities:
Australian Catholic University
Griffith University
Queensland University of Technology
University of New South Wales
University of Queensland
University of Southern Queensland
University of Sydney
Western Sydney University
University of Wollongong

To learn more about the PATHE program click HERE.