An Elders on Campus program, the development of an Indigenous governance structure, and involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in curriculum and content are some of the key initiatives underpinning Flinders University’s first INNOVATE Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says the plan maps how Flinders University will establish its own unique approach to reconciliation.
“This comprehensive and detailed plan was developed over many months of consultation with students, staff, alumni and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“It reflects the immense enthusiasm of the Flinders University community to ensure Indigenous perspectives are embedded across our activities, deepening our commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures in a spirit of equity, integrity and unity.” Professor Stirling says.
Launched during National Reconciliation Week (27 May-3 June), Flinders University’s inaugural INNOVATE RAP builds on the University’s longstanding respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and efforts to advance Indigenous outcomes in higher education and beyond.
Ongoing implementation and progress will be overseen by a working group of senior University leaders, with implementation led by inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) Associate Professor Simone Ulalka Tur, a proud Yankunytjatjara woman.
“This plan will expand our University’s efforts into a comprehensive set of structures and actions to foster understanding, acceptance and respect for Australia’s first peoples, their cultures and their knowledges,” says Associate Professor Tur.
Flinders University has for decades celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, included Indigenous perspectives in programs, and provided dedicated support for Indigenous students.The Flinders University Poche Centre for Indigenous Health develops Indigenous leaders and champions health in communities throughout SA and NT.
“Implementing the specific deliverables within the RAP will now call for a strong collective effort across the University, continuing the momentum built throughout its development,” Associate Professor Tur says.
“Together, we will ensure reconciliation forms part of everyday practices across campuses, delivering better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our communities while advancing the national effort towards a shared future.”
The plan defines what reconciliation means to Flinders University, incorporates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in University policies and procedures, and leverages the Flinders University Museum of Art’s extensive Indigenous art collections.
A key element is deeper collaboration with Indigenous communities. As part of this, more Elders are being appointed on campuses to contribute to the University’s new Indigenous governance structures, enhancing Indigenous perspectives, and student and staff recruitment and support.
“Last month we appointed our first Elders under the new program, Uncle Richard Fejo from the Larrakia Nation who is based at our Darwin site, and Auntie Pat Miller, an Arrernte Elder from Alice Springs. We also plan to have a Kaurna Elder or cultural advisor at Bedford Park within months.” Associate Professor Tur says.
The RAP launch coincided with the launch of the In the hold Exhibition | Decolonising Cook in contemporary Australian art, and was preceded by a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony virtual event on Wednesday 27 May, which was filmed over several days across the Bedford Park, Alice Springs and Darwin campuses.
Flinders University’s inaugural Uncle Lewis Yarluburka O’Brien Public Lecture will also commemorate Reconciliation Week. The virtual lecture tomorrow (2 June), will feature Professor Tom Calma AO on the topic ‘Reconciliation thinking and you’.