Posts for the indigenous dept

Kyol Blakeney writes about the Indigenous Games and the new Indigenous USU society

The Indigenous Games are fast approaching and we have a team ready to travel all the way to no-man’s-land at the UWS on the 22nd September (week 9). We have one of our last fundraising events for the upcoming Games on Thursday 22nd August on Eastern Ave so get in early for the best BBQ in Cadigal Country.

On a side note our Society, Gamarada, will soon have its name changed to Wirriga. Wirriga is than name of the goanna that travelled across the Blue Mountains during the Dreamtime and dug out its burrow in what is now known today as Sydney Harbour.

Our Society’s main goals are to:

  • Increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people actively wanting to continue their studies.
  • Encourage and support people who are passionate about making a change in this University’s attitude towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Make a change in attitude towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people both in the University and in the wider community.
  • Involve ourselves in events in the community outside the University.
  • Create a much stronger presence in the University of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture.
  • Host any event by the students concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Eventually raise funds to support at least 2 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students throughout their University career.

The Society will be hosting a Gala Dinner during Reconciliation Week in 2014 in the company of Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of New South Wales. Tickets will be on sale further towards the end of this semester.

Kyol Blakeney talks about Indigenous identity

“Did you know I’m 1/8 Aboriginal?” “You’re a half caste.” “I have 33% Aboriginal in me.” ……. BULLSHIT!…. You are either Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander or not. When will some people realise that it is not about what fraction or percentage of a nationality you are? It is about how proud you are to identify with the longest living race of people in the world. Nobody can just stand up and claim Aboriginality with a percentage. What I am interested in is how you feel about it in your heart.

It is well understood that some people may not know if they have an Indigenous background or have just found out recently. This is okay. It depends on if that person is willing to accept who they are and be proud of it. Being Indigenous is not just about the blood running through your veins. It’s about how you look for ways to identify and connect with the culture.

So, how do you identify with your culture? Understanding how we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples operate in our community is of major importance. Community is everything to us. There is very rarely a time when an Indigenous person will not drop everything there and then, to help out a fellow black fulla. To all Indigenous people it does not matter if an Indigenous person is charcoal black or milky white. If they are proud to identify as Indigenous and participate in community opportunities, they are more than welcome to. What I do not want to see are people who are embarrassed about their culture, but identify only when there is a benefit to be had.

The most well known definition of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is not from a percentage. Under Section 4(1) or the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW) an Aboriginal person means a person who: (a) is a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia, and (b) identifies as an Aboriginal person, and (c) is accepted by the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal person.

Kyol Blakeney lets us know how Sydney University has dealt with Indigenous issues

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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