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Recognising cultural identity

2 March 2020
Engaging the voices of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
From its earliest days, the University of Sydney was proudly in and of this land. When University founders chose the motto "sidere mens eadem mutato" and endorsed the design of the original seal, they delighted in representation of the southern night sky and the flora and fauna of this new country.

This has guided the University’s thinking and development of the Unfinished Business Action Plan. The plan outlines the priorities that the University will take in 2020 to complete the work remaining in its first integrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strategy, Wingara Mura – Bunga Barrabugu. Undertaken through extensive engagement and consultation within the University community, the strategy focuses on three key areas:

· recognising the cultural identities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the University of Sydney

· enhancing our capability in how we serve our broader community

· increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation at all levels of education, research, teaching and professional services.

The strategy has already seen successes including student initiatives, such as the Wingara Mura – Bunga Barrabugu Summer and Winter programs that aim to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation, education and research. The initiative saw more than 300 students take part in the 2019 summer school program.

The Gadigal Early Offer scheme and Gadigal program provide modified entry pathways for applicants and supports students through an intensive two-week Gadigal Academic Enrichment Program which has also achieved success with 45 applications received last year and 44 offers made.

The Indigenous Food Research Hub at Narrabri is a research site where University personnel and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are collaborating and sharing knowledge for mutual benefit. To date the Hub has established research and training facilities to support a participatory approach to the development of enterprises based on traditional knowledge of land and food.

Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services), said we need to listen to and engage the voices of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and those of the communities we serve.

“We need to celebrate our unique identity and how this has been influenced by First Peoples’ culture in the buildings and gardens, the public art and the outdoor spaces of our campuses.

We need to expand the embodiment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage beyond our usual Acknowledgement of Country, and build it into the core of who we are.
Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver, Deputy Vice-Chancellor

The strategy aims to further build on previous achievements such as the establishment of the National Centre for Cultural Competence; new pathways programs and the appointment of Associate Deans Indigenous in each faculty and school; the creation of service-learning initiatives with Indigenous communities across the country and embedded Indigenous design principles in our planning and construction of campus infrastructure.

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