Learning to listen

Synergising with Indigenous knowledges in Higher Education

Hear from artist, activist, educator and Senior Australian of the Year 2021, Dr Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM, and MIT’s Dr Otto Scharmer, in this conversation hosted by Professor Jioji Ravulo from the University of Sydney.

Education is pivotal but not without its limits in the drive for social change, genuine diversity and inclusion. How might we transform the ways of teaching and learning to bring a fresh lens, spark openness, and nurture generations to come? In particular, shaping knowledge and practices that prioritise Indigenous issues and decolonial thinking. 

This dialogue is an opportunity to push your thinking and approach, with insights from world-class thinkers. Both Dr Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann and Dr Otto Scharmer teach unique methodologies on listening and collaboration that focuses on emerging thought, deep listening and vulnerability. Drawing out their ideas is host Professor Jioji Ravulo, recently appointed Professor and Chair of Social Work and Policy Studies at the University of Sydney; making him also Australia's first Pasifika professor. Artist Jayce Pei Yu Lee was also present to create a scribing artwork of the ideas discussed.

This conversation is part of the One Sydney, Many People strategy championed by the University of Sydney to drive dialogue for social change within the institution and more broadly in wider organisations in Australia. 

Catch up on podcast



Hi there, Jioji Ravulo here. I'm a professor at the University of Sydney, and I had the pleasure and privilege of hosting a fantastic conversation on 18 November. A quick note that the audio for this podcast is from a live event. So it was not great in some parts, and it's been edited for clarity. If you'd like to watch the full version, it's up on the Sydney ideas website. But otherwise, it was a really insightful input and conversation about education and Indigenous knowledges. So stay with us and take a listen.


Welcome, this is the Sydney ideas podcast, bringing your talks and conversations featuring the best and brightest minds at the University of Sydney and beyond.


Ni sa bula vinaka and g'day. Thank you for joining us for Sydney Ideas, the University of Sydney's public talks program, with tonight's session, 'Learning to listen: Synergising with Indigenous knowledges in higher education.' I am Professor Jioji Ravulo.

Before we continue on, I would like to acknowledge Country. I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands in which we are joining tonight's conversation. For me, I'm on the lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation here at the University of Sydney. I'd like to also acknowledge that the lands that we are joining this conversation in and across Australia are still considered stolen as sovereignty was never ceded.

And to further reiterate, an ongoing commitment to work collaboratively with Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities. Hoping that through this shared conversation tonight we will continue to see how we can meaningfully do that.

A powerful event for you tonight. But first, we will be joined by Aunty Dr Miriam Ungunmerr Baumann and Dr Otto Scharmer.

So tonight's event is the result of a series of conversations as part of the 'One Sydney, Many People' strategy championed by the University of Sydney to drive dialogue for social change at the University and beyond.

Many of our colleagues have volunteered their spare time to share their thoughts on seeking change for betterment of work/life for all people in the effort to address racism, and work towards decolonising the university.

We know that education is pivotal. But it is not without its limits as we seek social change, genuine diversity and inclusion. So question: How might we transform the ways of teaching and learning to bring a fresh lens spark openness and nurture generations to come? And how can we better shape knowledge and practices that prioritise Indigenous perspectives and decolonial thinking?

I also want to acknowledge that these conversations exist beyond the walls of the university as these issues extend across the country, in our workplaces, institutions, and wider society. Some of the topics we hope to talk about tonight: decolonising work, seeking fairness and balance in life, particularly as it relates to work, the unattainable ideal even of this notion of work/life balance; synergising ways of doing and being; and also looking at the next steps we can take as individuals and as a collective.

The team have also provided a really helpful quotes from Dr Noel Nannup, and this quote reads:

"All we need to do is to have a piece of the path to the future. And that’s ours. And we polish that and we hone that. And we place that in the pathway that we are building. And as we build that pathway it changes us as the builders of that path and it also shapes the destination that we are going to."

So tonight, this is what we are hoping to learn: to listen and to inspire change of how we can proactively and collaboratively listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when they ask for change, and how to listen deep and internalise change for the better, and what next steps we can take.

One of the key things that I know is really important for myself being here at the University of Sydney is to further highlight and facilitate a shared approach and being able to ensure that we are meaningfully including Indigenous ways of knowing doing being and becoming.

I come from an Indigenous Pacific background myself, my father is iTaukei Fijian and being able to move between these two worlds is an important part of me also making sense of my identity, and how I can then actually include that in educational spaces, like the University of Sydney. So I'm hoping as part of our shared conversation with our panel members tonight, that we'll continue to further highlight how that works across different spaces, not just in the university sector, but also across our different industries in which we might be representative or come from.

We're just still in the process of getting Dr Ungunmerr Baumann join us so I might actually go across to Dr Otto Scharmer as we just work through the connection. So let me now introduce Dr Otto Scharmer. He's also part of our panel this evening. Hi. Hi Dr Sharma. Thank you for joining us.

Dr Otto Sharma is a Senior Lecturer at MIT Management Sloan School and the founder of Presencing Institute, where he introduced the concept of presencing, learning from the emerging future in his best selling books Theory U and Presence.

He is a member of the UN Learning Advisory Council for the 2030 Agenda, the World Future Council and the Club of Rome's high level 21st century Transformational Economics Commission. In 2020, he received the elevating humanity award from the organisational development network.

We're now going to hear more about Theory U.Thank you so much for joining us. So, Dr Scharmer, can you tell us more about Theory U. So what is it?


I would love to. Thank you Jioji, first of all for inviting me to the session. I am normally operating from the land of the Massachusetts, near Boston, near MIT. But right now I'm joining you from Germany not too close from where I was born and grew up on a farm that some 800 years ago was created by a monastery and for many – 100 – years was operated by the family I was born in, and then my parents some 60 years ago, changed the conventional way of farming to regenerative agriculture. So I'm coming back home, close to the roots that where I grew up and join you tonight from Germany. So thank you so much for having me being part of this conversation, and to join, you know, to that, the Theory U background and maybe I, for the just first few opening remarks, share a few pictures here.

Theory U really starts with a very simple distinction that we all are very familiar with, which is a distinction between what's visible and what's invisible. So that's really the main distinction that all systems thinking is starting with. So Theory U is part of the family of systems thinking, but it's extending systems thinking towards awareness based systems change. So the distinction between what's visible to the eye, the symptoms at the top of the iceberg; and then what's not visible, kind of the deeper root issues. That's really the main focus of all systems thinking related approaches that you try to do more than just reacting against the symptoms at the top, but you try to understand the reality of the invisible the re-arm of the deeper root issues, not only outer structures, but also deeper paradigms of thought and deeper sources from which we operate.

What is it we see at the top level? I like to frame what we see in terms of challenges today, in terms of the ecological divide, the social divide and the spiritual divide.

The ecological divide, kind of all the environmental issues, arising from the disconnect between self and nature.

The social divide or the you know, patterns of colonisation, exclusion and polarisations arising from a disconnect between self and other from othering at the end of the day.

And the spiritual divide, really all the deeper disconnects to our deeper sources of creativity and self. You could say it's arising from a disconnect between self and self between who I am today and who I could be tomorrow.

So what we see today, I think, in all major systems is this: that we collectively create results that nobody wants, which results, these three, right? The destruction of nature, destruction of our society connection really and destruction of really our capacity to connect to our true self, to change to address these issues.

What I learned as an action researcher is that to change a system, you really need to transform consciousness, you need to transform the deeper mindsets based on which we operate, based on which we enact these results from an ecosystem awareness or a silo view – kind of where I just look at it from my perspective – to ecosystem awareness that is grounded in the well being of all.

Three in four persons, according to a recent poll in G20 countries so that's kind of 60% of the world population and 80% of the global GDP, support transforming our economic and social systems in order to address the environmental social systems. So almost everyone does that. And yet, it's not happening, right? Because most people would say, How? I don't know how. And I think that's one of the most interesting observations about our current moment, the huge potential for change. And yet, only very little of that is actualised.

So I, over the past 20 years, try to investigate the how. And I think and I want to share a little bit kind of my key insight there, because I think it has everything to do with reimagining our universities and reimagining how universities relate to the renewal of society.

So the first dimension here that we learn is, of course, you need knowledge and method and tools. Basically, to change systems, as I said, we need to change consciousness. And to change consciousness, you really need tools that make systems see themselves. That make a system sense and see itself. So not only seeing that pattern, but also feeling the pain of the others. So that's the first step. We need these new methods and tools, deep listening, kind of the deeper levels of awareness based listening as one of the key tools that are missing today.

Then we need practice fields right in order, it's not enough to just put out tools, we need practice fields. That's what we do in learning environments. These are really kind of the deeper learning environments where we practice these tools.

And then to apply it to societal transformation and change, we need to create kind of learning infrastructures in the form of learning and transformation and change labs that convene stakeholders in a system on a transformation journey from ecosystem or silo awareness to ecosystem or whole system's awareness. So in other words, the learning infrastructures that we need today to face that the society of challenge is cross sector, convening stakeholders across business, government, civil society; cross intelligences, which means kind of including the whole person, not only the whole system, but also the whole person, hand/heart in hand. So open mind, open heart, open will. And cross discipline.

At the intersection of science arts systems change, and consciousness. So how to make that more available, how to democratise the access to these deeper learning infrastructures, is something that requires us to work cross culture to bridge all three divides, in terms of building the platforms and pathways that make these tools and practice fields and labs available to everyone. To everyone who wants to deal with that, who wants to work with that. And what we learned is, to make this democratically available, we need to further create infrastructures that support a connection to people, which is an inspired global ecosystem of changemakers that already exists, but that for learning environments are a critical component and living examples. Partners in the real world who embody the bridging of the three divides already in what they do.

And then the last piece of infrastructure, I think, is research that makes visible, the deeper or the relational dimension of systems change that helps us to learn from what we're actually learning in parts of the system. So what I'm basically saying is, if you think about this kind of emerging university structure as a tree, kind of the knowledge methods and tools, capacity building labs, at the branches; and then the pathways is kind of the trunk. And then the root system is kind of the people and the living examples and the new research that we need making these visible, invisible dimension of change visible. That's one way of looking at that.

What does this emerging type of possibility of a university do? So what is actually the outcome of that for society? I think it connects young people to a vibrant ecosystem of living examples, bridging the three divides, that we all are looking for. I said, like three out of four people are looking for these transformations.

Number two, it creates this inspired field of planetary connections among radical changemakers. So I was just invited by the Aalto University in Finland, the primary university in Finland, for running a course on capacity building for creative radicals. So that's their university strategy, to educate creative radicals because the innovation that we need today must be more than just modifying what we already have, it must really go to the root system, to the roots of our system and renew our old forms, often based on a colonial type of thinking, from the roots in a way that is bridging the three divides.

And then a robust set of methods and tools and infrastructures for radical regeneration, for creating new realities. So if you look at that, and say, Okay, so what really, is that? What is this set of learning infrastructures? I would say it's a school for transformation. It's a school for transformation that helps, that democratises access to the methods and tools of transformation.

And I want to end with a suggestion. How to rethink the essence of university in terms of the core process. And I think the core process of the university can be re-thought as an ecosystem breathing. And ecosystem breathing means that the real learning process that we need in this century, and that we need to bridge to address the challenges that we face globally, is a breathing; can be thought as a breathing process, a process that no longer just takes place on campus. But that requires the students really to go out into reality, to immerse themselves to the edges of the system, where we can all already kind of sense the new happening. In other words, that requires us in this co-sensing phase, where we become one with the reality at the edges of the system. It requires us to open the mind, open the heart and open the will. And then breathing out in terms of contributing, prototyping, radical regeneration of kind of our institutional forms, and prototyping in the way of being the change. So in other words, if you want to, in any place bridge the three divides, the challenge is not just more, How do I change the reality outside of myself? The challenge in all prototyping is to be the change first that you want to see in the world. In other words, you need to create a place in your heart, where you embody kind of the future that you want to see within yourself first in order then to engage in new type of relationships.

And in order to do that, the main part really is connecting to source by letting go and letting come and also by connecting to an inner threshold that often – that sometimes I also think of in terms of the eye of the needle and the eye of the needle is something from the ancient Jerusalem, so it was the name of a gate. And when you enter to the city late, it was a very small gate. So it required you to unload everything that you own right, everything that you brought, in order then to kneel down and to go through the gate. In other words, the eye of the needle is a process, is a part of our human transformation process where we need to let go of everything that is not essential, in order to then cross the threshold, which if we no longer hold on to those things that are not essential, it allows us to step into a new space of possibility, which then allows us in the breathing out cycle, to become, you know, to become an instrument for the future that is actually wanting to emerge and that is wanting to emerge through us. So learning in this sense can be reframed as co-sensing and co-shaping the future and when I say future, I don't mean an abstract thing out there. But I mean something that each human being can have a very personal relationship with.

Future is a possibility that depends on me, in order to come into reality, so it's a very personal relationship, and a process of discovery and I think that is what should be at the heart of the new university process.


That's fantastic Otto. I really love this idea that the individual is instrumental in ensuring that their understanding is also transformed as part of that process of then looking at the broader collective context in which we can also make some changes out locally but also globally.

Alright, so I'm really excited because we're now going to enter into our shared conversation with Dr Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann.

She is the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year, and is a renowned Aboriginal artist and educator dedicated to creating bright and fulfilling futures for Aboriginal children and young people. She was also the first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in the Northern Territory, and is the founder of the Miriam Rose Foundation, which helps young Indigenous people "walk in two worlds."

Finally, she advocates for a kind of listening – a quiet awareness – that sums up a whole way of being. This practice is called the Dadirri which she will be describing to us today. So Aunty can you tell us more about Dadirri?


It’s in relation to deep listening, silent, still awareness. And Dadirri is based on nature. An anthropologist had written with this data when he was working with my people here in the Daly River region that out of all the religions in the world, Dadirri was the only one based on nature. The anthropologist was Dr Stanner. He used to be in Canberra, but he has passed away now.  And it is also getting people, like Otto was talking about before, in relation to the being of individuals, like for example, you know, people come and go here. The river here is famous for crocodiles and barramundi fishing. There is a course-way here where a lot of recreation takes place, for some of our people and for others who are visiting. They stay in tourist places down the stream from us. And people say hello to them and talk to them and say, “any fish?” and they say things like, “oh I only got one. It’s not a very good day for fishing and I have been here for several days now and I haven’t been very lucky. What is wrong with the fish?”, they say. And we say, “well for two or three years now we never have enough rain to flush the river”. Then I say, nature is telling us that we have to replenish and that is what the fish are doing now. We have to fulfill our spirit, and go on and we have got to make that time. You know how you asked me earlier on, “what does being silent mean?”, you have got to have time out.

I used to run to Dadirri tours [but] I stopped inviting people coming up in groups - school kids from colleges down south. It was hard at times seeing groups of people, talking to them [because] you have got to find the time to have some time to yourself, and find your spirit because you’re being smothered with things to do, day in day out, you know with family and work and kids and schooling, that sort of thing – household stuff. You have got to try to find your spirit in all of that and be able to go on.      

I think there’s more challenges now than there ever was when I was growing.  We’re in the technology era and the world is moving faster than normal, you know what I mean? And we’re expected to keep up with every Tom, Dick and Harry, which is really sad. Whereas before the government would give you a grant to finish the project, then give you a timeline for you to finish the project by. And we would say no, we are going to do it at our pace you know, that sort of thing and sadly, that’s not any more.  

And I feel sorry for the young ones today. There are more challenges for them now than    there was ever before when I was growing up.  We never had any cars, we never had money, we never had mobile phones, TV, fast cars and all that sort of thing you know. Now the world is upon us here, especially in the bush which is scary at times yeah.   

Sometimes it's really hard to steer our young ones you know, away from all of that attraction. But because we’re community and in the middle of nowhere, I suppose you could say, we are about two and a half or three hours away from Darwin, I guess you still have some control [with] helping and working with our young ones today and being able to choose the right way to go, you know. About things that matter …  suicide attempts, suicide, and that is why I have the foundation going, the Miriam Rose Foundation, to sit and help and get as many elders to come and work with the young ones and say, “hey we’re here for you, we can work with you. If you want tucker, we have food. If you want to go down the river, we can take you there, get fishing lines and sit by the river”.


Thanks Aunty. One of the things that impresses me from what you've just shared is, again, this idea just stopping and allowing ourselves. It's almost like we have to give ourselves permission just to stop, to not get caught up in all the stuff that happens in and around our lives. And it's through that process that we can connect to self and nature and actually learn and improve our well being as a result as well.


Yeah is it dealing. And you have got to allow yourself to be able to do something with that situation – just go sit by the river and listen to what is around you. Also being aware of where you are. Nature. The wind rustling in the leaves, the river flowing over the rocks. You know. It’s healing when we lose a loved one, we owe in our grief you know. I don’t know what words you use or westerners down your way, but there are a couple of words here … [-] and [] and so on. And it’s very special. And when we get someone who needs to be quiet, when I’m talking to them, they end up crying … I went to Cairns to talk on Dadirri to the Catholics there at the school. And I got my case from the roundabout and was waiting for the lady to pick me up. She said wait there, I’ll go pay from the machine to get the car out. Then the next minute I heard this voice from where she was and I said, I nearly swore [laughs], and I said “here I am they invited me to come to them and talk about nature and Dadirri and the man I am talking to is a machine over there!”. And I am getting used to Zoom – because I can be in your presence, I have been having a hard time all this year trying to get used to talking to people on zoom because I just can’t connect properly. 


Yes. Which is a big part of being able to actually then share. Yeah, totally, totally, totally. Thank you so much Aunty. I'm going to bring auto back to our shared conversation. I've got a couple of questions. Practically, how do we continue and I know Otto you shared about this, this broader concept and bigger picture thinking but also comes down to how universities base their vision and their role in ensuring that people transform to their processes.So Otto, how do you see how do you see this continue to play out, especially in in countries where, you know, we just didn't feel that structure is the way in which we should learn and not necessarily see the importance of learning more organically? And same Aunty, how do we continue to use practices that like to dairy in an organic way? So Otto, what's your thoughts on that?


Well, let me start with reacting a little bit [to] what Dr Miriam shared in her remarks, because it resonates so deeply with my own experience, and also with your question, and that is one of the most powerful gateways that I have seen for learners in any kind of higher educational setting, or other setting, also kind of leadership development setting really, is accessing and learning how to practice deeper levels of listening.

And also, what you mentioned Dr Miriam, in terms of stillness, and that's really, I think, to get to the deeper levels of listening, stillness is the gateway, right? And that allows you to drop to that deeper level of awareness, where the separation between observer and observed is fading away and is opening up. And what I learned is, if you teach that to students, that's actually incredibly powerful. And what I don't know about your context really, particularly the most recent one, but I can only speak from where I am, which is the United States, mostly – I'm currently visiting Europe – but in the United States, we have one out of four college students contemplating suicide. So that's the current student population.

And what some of the most heartbreaking experiences I have is seeing young people really in that mindset of depression, of that and pessimism in regard to our own agency and how we might be able or not shape the future. We know we needed to do something, but can we really change things? And so that's, so there is a doubt and pessimism, that is part of our culture now; is one of the most inhibiting forces. And then the question is, okay, so what is it? But there's this huge potential and what is it that helps activate this deep potential for change that almost everyone has? Many of the students have very strongly.

And I found deep listening is one gateway. And the other thing you mentioned Dr Miriam is being aware of the place you're in, of nature, of the being of nature, not only as a living system but also as a living being that we can relate to. And I think nature really is the teacher, right? And our deepest social relationships, the social field as a teacher, and activating all our senses, as ways of knowing I think is deeply related to Indigenous knowledge systems and epistemological tradition and it's deeply empowering to students because when I use embodied forms of learning in my class, that's where people say they move beyond the doubt of the pessimism. They feel their own agency in the moment. So I think decolonising our western curriculum starts with rehabilitating the knowing of all our senses. So that there is knowing in all our senses, and that's what we need to be skillful for. We need – it has everything to do with the deeper levels of listening, and the deeper levels of accessing the knowing of our body, not just our individual physical bodies, but also our social bodies. And that's really the literacy we mean – we need. And if we offer that to students, I see kind of that they very quickly can activate their own agency and activate a whole other level of changemaking, then you can observe otherwise.


Aunty, what are you thinking of the back of what's being discussed?


You know how NAIDOC every year has a theme. Today, this year is “healing country”. You know, you call yourself and Australian, I call myself an Australian, so we have got to heal country. And it’s what feeds us, we belong to it. It’s that belonging – an important term that we use – when we are talking to our children, we say, we belong to this language group. You belong to this family. You belong to this dreaming, you know. And I think that makes our people more strong, to be able to continue to face the word in that they know who they are.  

If I am in front of students down south, they say, “who are you?” and I say to them, “who are you!?” and they say, “oh I’m Mark Smith”, a name that came to the top of my head.   [inaudible ]   I say I am from the Daly River, that is my homeland. But people whatever state from they are, they might call themselves Australia, but they originated from around the world … but if you are Australian, you’re just as much in line to this country as me and you. 


Yeah, I completely agree with you, that everyone should be part of this conversation. Too often do I think that people think that it's just the Indigenous communities that should care for country, but it's everyone that is here on this country that should be involved in caring for country and healing country.


Yes, children, young people they’re march in the streets and saying, “Hey governments, how about doing something to heal this land?”. That is what the conversation is about now, for people around Australia and overseas and it is important. That is what feeds us. And we are here, in this land that we call Australia, that we belong to.


Thanks Aunty. I'm now going to ask for our questions on Slido to appear up on the screen and we're going to look at having a go at answering some of these questions. So let's look at what's here. Let's go with the third question. Sensing journeys, what new skills and ways of being are we inviting into the awareness of these changemakers? How willing is an academically arrogant system able to transform to this level of self transformation? What are your thoughts Otto, in this idea of the system also needing to understand their responsibility and role?


Well, that's a good question. I'm not sure about the system. The system has a bad track record of not changing and of that arrogance, you can say but as in all kinds of institutions, when you begin to work inside the system, then you realise the system as such is not really that homogeneous. They're this kind of people and those kind of people. So there is like, vast kind of pockets of people inside the system that actually a longing for a very different way of operating and I think if you go to Indigenous knowledge systems, you were quoting the younger leader Dr Noel Nannup before with his wonderful piece on the brick, which is my piece of the emerging path of the future. What is it? How can I do that?

And I think inside the system, for example, here at MIT, the biggest force for change is always the young people, the students. Most of the whole shift towards sustainability, towards action learning, towards really operating as a global breathing ecosystem in parts. So what I described was not really fully reality, but it's practised in parts already and that has been driven by young people. And then by select faculties, there's a significant group in all kinds of academic institutions; parts, sometimes even from the university leadership, that really see the need, that this institution needs to transform that our epistemologies need to transform, and that, in my view, I would say kind of the old academic institution, which is, in a social sense, or like operating an old kind of knowledge, needs to invert itself in society, so that it can be in service of and in collaboration with and partnership with those hotspots of societal and planetary healing and society renewal; that begin to show up in many places in order to give young people access kind of to these peoples and living examples and, and initiatives so that they can participate.

I think it's happening in a lot more places already on a small scale than what's broadly seen. But it's usually a few people who are the pioneers in that. That's our current stage. It has the full system change, that has not been the case, but I think a lot is possible over the next decade and all the cracks, the dysfunctionality of the open system are there.

It's also the true that there is you know, not just one Western old epistemology. If you really study the Western epistemology, you realise that there is another tradition, another tradition of a deeper way of seeing, for example, the German phenomenologist Goethe, who develop the perception based off connecting to the whole, which is based on phenomenology, and which is based not on abstraction and separation, but on a capacity to connecting with the authentic whole.

So there is, you know, a hidden tradition also in the West that is much more aligned really with knowledge systems that, for example, we see in Indigenous epistemologies, and that works with accessing different mental capacities than just kind of the rational reasoning. And all of that I think comes out today, is something we also bring in through brain research; and enter mindfulness practices that more and more are linked with kind of scientific research and neuro phenomenology, where we discover the scientific foundations for the deeper ways of knowing, that in many ways are already happening, but you know, only now begin to have a scientific underpinning.


Yeah. Thanks Otto and Aunty, I'm going to ask one last quick question. I'm conscious that we've only got three minutes left. I could talk about this for hours. I'm going to combine a couple of questions from the screen that talk about the use of technology and built up cities. How can we practice to Dadirri with technology and in built up cities?


That’s a hard one to answer because I don’t live in the city. But hey, some of those towns and cities down south are by rivers, waterways, mountains. I have been down south and have seen many of the cities in Australia. People have got to make time.    They might have to drive to some of those places. Miles and miles away maybe.  I have seen people exercising, walking with headphones. What I am saying is that people are making time to do that. Even here in the community, we have teachers and nurses that are in the community with us here and work. I seen them walking towards the river or on the road, and exercise and they make time to do that.  It’s hard for people – who say – a comment I get often, what can we do when there is no bush or nature? That is sad in a way, but I am sure birds come to your house, if you have got a garden, insects, butterflies.  


Love it. Love it. Thank you so much, Aunty. That's so wonderful, so practical. Look, I again as I said I could talk about this for hours. This event will be posted though on the Sydney Ideas website and the podcast will also be up early next week as part of our contribution to this shared ongoing conversation. Thank you so much Dr Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann and Dr Otto Scharmer for joining us for this important conversation that matters. I am Jioji Ravulo. Good night.


Thanks for listening to the Sydney ideas podcast. For more links, resources or the transcript, head to the Sydney Ideas website or subscribe to Sydney Ideas using your favourite podcast app. Finally, we want to acknowledge that this podcast was made in Sydney which sits on the land of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation. It is upon their ancestral lands at the University of Sydney is built.

Watch on Facebook Live


Dr Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, 2021 Senior Australian of the year, is a renowned Aboriginal Artist and Educator who is dedicated to creating bright and fulfilling futures for Aboriginal children and youth. She was the first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in the Northern Territory and is the founder of the Miriam Rose Foundation.  Miriam Rose speaks five local languages along with English and is responsible for establishing the highly successful Merrepen Arts centre in Nauiyu.

Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer in the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He introduced the concept of “presencing”—learning from the emerging future. His most recent book, The Essentials of Theory U (2018), summarizes the core principles and applications of awareness-based systems change. In 2015 he co-founded the MITx u.lab and in 2020 the GAIA journey (Global Activation of Intention and Action), which have activated a vibrant worldwide ecosystem of transformational change.

Most recently, with his colleagues he co-created a suite of action learning interventions that help UN leaders and UN Country Teams to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. 

 He is a member of the UN Learning Advisory Council for the 2030 Agenda, the World Future Council, and the Club of Rome’s High-Level 21st Century Transformational Economics Commission. In 2021 he received the Elevating Humanity Award from the Organizational Development Network.

For more information visit www.ottoscharmer.com and www.presencing.org

Professor Jioji Ravulo is the Professor and Chair of Social Work and Policy Studies in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at The University of Sydney. His research and areas of interest include mental health and well being, alcohol and other drugs, youth development, marginality and decoloniality. He is passionate about creating and implementing social work educational and research approaches that are engaging and engaged.

Nuanced with a genuine commitment to the dynamic inclusion of cultural diversity and its differences, Jioji is super keen to create collaborative spaces for students, community groups and industry partners. He is involved in various community based research and co-design initiatives, including projects that support health literacies across equity groups, enhancing service delivery models for young people and their families, promoting the inclusion of diversity in educational settings and supporting the meaningful inclusion of indigenous perspectives and practices.

Jayce Pei Yu Lee is a graphic facilitator and visual catalyst based in Taipei, Taiwan. She studied Typographic Design and Fine Arts while living in New Zealand for eight years. Her relentless passion in using her listening and creative arts to make the impossible possible, the invisible visible, and the intangible tangible is one of the unique personal traits among her peers.