Koorie Centre update and other plans for 2014

Kyol Blakeney, Crystal Dempsey, Madison McIvor and Brad Hanson.

Last year, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students spent a majority of the year increasing awareness on Indigenous issues within the University and also gained attention from the wider community from down the road at Redfern to Alice Springs radio. Attention was drawn to the Koori Mail and the Indigenous Times with the controversial question, “What is happening to the Koori Centre?”

Here is the truth. After negotiations between students and management, the Koori Centre has remained a space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students so far. It is equipped with a study area, library, and a common room. While these are the bare essentials, there has been major staff shortage in the space and most of the rooms that used to be offices are empty. The Koori subjects are now being amalgamated into the Education and Social Work Faculty.

As far as we know, there is a five-year plan to build another space within the University known as The National Centre of Cultural Competence. While there have been many questions and concerns regarding the changes in the Koori Centre, we cannot make a judgment on this strategy yet. One legitimate worry, however, is the fact that there has still been no immediate improvement to the conditions of the support network for the students.

The remainder of the year was about increasing the awareness of Indigenous issues and presence in the University. The collective made history this year by having the first Aboriginal student councilor to be elected by the students and the first Aboriginal Vice-President of the SRC. To further achieve this goal, the Indigenous students founded the Wirriga Society. This society is open to all students of the University and encourages the coming together of cultures to gain understanding between them. Wirriga has also been given the opportunity to co-ordinate the Indigenous Festival
in 2014.

This year, we will be pushing for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to be permanently flown on campus along with some physical changes to our space in Old Teachers’ College to promote our culture. We will continue with our aim to work collaboratively with staff and management and hold regular autonomous BBQs and lunches across campus for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The Indigenous Office Bearers for 2014 are Crystal Dempsey, Madison McIvor, Brad Hanson, and Kyol Blakeney.

You can contact them at indigenous.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

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