News

University of Sydney holds its largest ever Reconciliation Week


24 May 2012

Our Reconciliation Week events will engage the entire University community to recognise the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs.
Our Reconciliation Week events will engage the entire University community to recognise the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs.

In line with our renewed momentum in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, the University of Sydney is staging its largest ever program of public events for Reconciliation Week 2012.

The University last year appointed Professor Shane Houston as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) - the most senior appointment of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person to any Australian university - to develop and lead an integrated strategy to advance Indigenous participation, engagement, education and research.

With its heightened commitment in this area the University is staging its most vibrant Reconciliation Week program to date, with the hope of engaging the entire University community and community more broadly.

The University's Seymour Centre plays an integral role in boosting this year's celebration, hosting a range of high-profile, educational and entertaining performances.

As part of the Reconciliation Week 2012 theme 'Let's Talk Recognition' Seymour Centre events include:

  • an intimate concert with Aria Award-winning singer Casey Donovan
  • a free Reconciliation Party family event featuring live music from upcoming Indigenous singers Jess Beck and Marcus Corowa
  • a creative panel discussion on the topic of "I'm not racist but..." featuring comedian Nazeem Hussain (winner of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Best Newcomer Award 2008 for his hit debut Fear Of A Brown Planet), Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission Dr Helen Szoke, and others
  • the theatrical production Katherine from the Australian Theatre for Young People
  • Bindjareb Pinjarra, a brilliantly improvised "comedy about a massacre" exploring West Australia's Pinjarra Massacre
  • Winds of Change, an exhibition celebrating Indigenous artists run by the Boomali Aboriginal Artists Cooperative

Professor Shane Houston: "Recognition and respect for cultural difference is a fundamental responsibility we owe each other."
Professor Shane Houston: "Recognition and respect for cultural difference is a fundamental responsibility we owe each other."

The University is also opening its doors to all who wish to mark Reconciliation Week through a community barbeque, flag raising ceremony and guided tours of the Macleay Museum.

A record number of more than 200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students from years seven and eight will visit the University during Reconciliation Week for the fourth annual Indigenous Students Experience Day. For the first time parents are also invited to the event. A further 50 year 11 and 12 students will also watch a performance of Bindjareb Pinjarra and tour the University campus and Koori Centre.

The Seymour Centre's Artistic Director and General Manager Tim Jones said live performance is an important way of building recognition.

"One of the key ways for non-Indigenous people to recognise the experiences of the first Australians is to listen to their stories. This is why, as a major Sydney venue, the Seymour Centre has chosen to present a dynamic program of performances and events during Reconciliation Week.

"Recognition leads to respect and understanding. We hope that our Reconciliation Week celebration goes some way to providing this recognition to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians," Jones said.

Professor Shane Houston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services), said: "National Reconciliation Week is about us all trying to find balance in our personal and collective narratives and identity that values the cultural and other differences that are part of the rich mosaic of Australian life.

"Recognition and respect for cultural difference is a fundamental responsibility we owe each other. The University of Sydney recognises our role in building this recognition and respect and is committed to the development of a University community that is able to engage with Aboriginal cultures, issues and experiences, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples can proudly, confidently succeed."

Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said he hoped the entire community would join the University to mark this important occasion.

"As one of the country's foremost universities, we recognise the need to play a leading national role in the process of reconciliation, and, through education, to help bridge the economic and social divides that persist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians," Dr Spence said.

The events include performances by Indigenous artists (L-R) Casey Donovan and Marcus Corowa.
The events include performances by Indigenous artists (L-R) Casey Donovan and Marcus Corowa.


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Media enquiries: Sarah Stock, 9114 0748, 0419 278 715, sarah.stock@sydney.edu.au