St Hilda’s College is proud to have had one of its students, Layla Maloney, compete at the recent Indigenous Nationals.
Layla (pictured bottom row, second from right) was one of 27 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to represent Murrup Barak (the Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development) and the University of Melbourne at the annual sporting competition involving Indigenous students from the majority of universities around Australia.
The University of Melbourne had two teams at the tournament, which sees participants compete in all four of the following sports – touch football, basketball, netball and volleyball.
“Basically every university in the country puts in a team of Indigenous students, whether that’s Torres Strait Islander or Aboriginal,” explains Layla.
“We compete against each other in round robin tournaments and each day is dedicated to a different sport.”
“They hold an Opening Ceremony on the first day, which involves people who have competed in the past to do speeches, a Welcome to Country.
Running since 2006 and held in a different location every year, the 2018 edition of the Indigenous Nationals was hosted by Macquarie University and Walanga Muru in Sydney.
Layla made the cut to represent the University of Melbourne after at least five trials which included up to 70 students who tried out. Needing an ability and competency at four different ball sports, you cannot be a one trick pony, thus making Layla’s selection all the more notable.
“I’d heard all of the Indigenous senior students around uni preach about how good the Indigenous uni games are,” said Layla on what spiked her interest.
“I actually went to the information sessions last year but they said they weren’t allowing first years to join because of fear that people’s grades might drop because the training is quite intense and study takes priority. But that changed this year and everyone was allowed to try out.”
“I played rugby union for a couple of years and basketball and netball at school. Volleyball was tough but overall it was really fun to be part of.”
“There were some national representatives competing. There was a girl who plays basketball for Australia.
“The level is pretty intense, certainly not something you would just rock up to socially.”
Reflecting on her experience, Layla says the comradery and friendships she built, coupled with the aspect of playing four different sports were highlights.
“The best part of the tournament is getting to know people. I bumped into three people who I had met in the past and you just make really good friendships,” said Layla.
“And the sport is great. You’re not going to have many competitions where you get to play four different sports.”
On top of her sporting prowess, how Layla came to be at St Hilda’s and the University of Melbourne is a just as fascinating.
Born in Cairns and raised in Yarrabah (a community about 50 kilometres from Cairns) before moving at the age of 6 to Macksville which is midway between Sydney and Brisbane, Layla is a second year resident at St Hilda’s College.
In Year 11, Layla tossed up whether go into teaching or engineering, but after speaking with a number of people and teachers she decided instead on studying humanities. With her chosen field decided on, next for Layla was to work out which university to go, and interestingly the University of Melbourne was not initially on her radar.
“I always wanted to go to the University of NSW or Sydney University, but then at the end of Year 12 I saw the Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne and it was regarded as one of the best in the country so I thought let’s give Melbourne a go,” recalls Layla.
“I went to the University of NSW winter camp and I was tossing up between there or Melbourne, then I saw this girl wearing a University of Melbourne jumper at Sydney airport.
“I walked over and asked her what it’s like there, and she said it was amazing, so I said I’m going there. So that’s how I made up my mind.
“I’m doing the Bachelor of Arts extended course which is Indigenous access so I did that extra year, so technically this is my first year but I’ve already done my foundation subjects for Arts.
Accepted to the University of Melbourne, how and why did she decide on St Hilda’s as the residential college to live at?
“I decided to come to Hilda’s because it looked like the newest college on the websites and when I was here for the interview process Gabby Ebsworth (former student) came up and told me she was the first Indigenous person at Hilda’s, and I said ‘are you joking’?”
“I said right I’m coming here, so it all worked out in the end and I’m really enjoying it.”
St Hilda's College is a living community and residential college on campus at the University of Melbourne.
We acknowledge and pay respect to the Wurrundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, the Traditional Owners of the land upon which our college is situated. We pay our respect to all the Elders of Indigenous students who call St Hilda’s home. We also acknowledge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of our community, the University of Melbourne, and the wider world.