In 1965 this University made history by having Australia’s first Aboriginal graduate, Uncle Charlie Perkins. Since then, there have been various points in the University’s history which directly affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in mainly positive however sometimes negative ways.
Reflecting back over the past few years it seems to me like there is only attention on Indigenous peoples of the University when something controversial has taken place. Personally, I believe this is a problem. To put it bluntly; I don’t like it when the only time there seems to be a presence or awareness of Indigenous Australians here is from the result of a controversy or debate. The main reasons for such disagreements between the Aboriginal people and the University is because there always seems to be a lack of consultation for the Indigenous students with regards to Indigenous issues within the University, and the failure of the University to recognise our protocols.
What some people don’t seem to understand is that we as Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders follow a process of doing things that we have learnt in our own communities and we still continue to do them today. It’s a RESPECT thing. There are certain ways of going about things and most of it relates to consultation of our community. There is never a decision made in our communities just by one person. Everything is considered and everyone is listened to respectfully. There is also the matter of protocol of who to talk with and the way they are spoken to or about. Again, it’s a RESPECT thing.
To improve the University’s understanding of our culture, protocol, and presence here, there are now four new Indigenous Officers of the SRC. These officers should be your point of contact for any Indigenous queries, needs, etc. The Officers will then consult with the University’s Indigenous community which will eliminate the breaking of any cultural rules or protocols and hopefully create a stronger presence and awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the University, bringing understanding of each other’s cultures to everybody.
The Indigenous Officers are: Kyol Blakeney, Chloe Wighton, Alicia Johnson, and Henrietta Stapleton.
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