News

Message from Professor Shane Houston - Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services)


27 March 2014

As we approach the second anniversary of Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu and as we set out into 2014, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the impressive engagement and effort across faculties and professional services units that has delivered an exciting 2013. We have seen many outstanding and energetic initiatives that have not only delivered us great momentum in 2013 but also provided us with justified anticipation for yet better results in 2014.

As a university community we should be confident that our joint efforts to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education into our university's results, core business and culture are taking root, we are seeing growth in many places, from many individuals and groups across our university community. I would like to thank you all for your deep commitment and contribution and recognise the real impetus that you have provided to Wingara Mura's ambitions.

Recruitment of new staff

Within the first 18 months of the Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu we have introduced the Merit Appointment Scheme (MAS), to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in our workforce. Since 2012 our staff numbers have increased, in 2013 we have appointed 12 new staff under MAS and we anticipate continuing growth through MAS and from other broader employment avenues in 2014.

Supporting existing staff

The Human Resources team offered staff an introductory face-to-face cultural competence workshop. These workshops designed to inspire participants to engage with Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu strategy and introduce them to the concept of cultural competence have been a great success. Last year 346 staff members participated in workshops. Staff feedback has been very positive. One member of staff completed the course twice, giving the feedback that it was "just as brilliant, informative and moving the second time."

Cultural Competence

In 2013 the University established the National Centre for Cultural Competence as a knowledge centre specifically established to foster scholarship and research in and translation of cultural competence, an area of increasing academic interest. The NCCC will evolve into a nationally and internationally recognised leader in the development of knowledge and practice on matters of cultural competence.

Learning and Teaching

A number of faculties embarked on a review of curriculum to find ways of transforming learning and teaching outcomes so that our students acquire the capability to operate in contexts where there is more than one culture in play. A review of the Aboriginal Studies major commenced in 2013. The outcomes will add value to the existing offering and engage students an expanded learning experience that will be the best in the country.

Current students

Recognition of Sydney as a destination for great Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students continues to improve. The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students listing Sydney as their first preference continues to rise and the number of offers we have made to talented students also continues to rise. In 2013 the University had Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student in every faculty, a real achievement.

Future students

This year we have already witnessed the fantastic success of the Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program which brought 216 students from Australia's far reaches to explore study options at the University. This was a truly collaborative effort engaging over 200 staff from across every Division and many Professional Services Units. Watch the video and see how our staff contributed to this terrific program inspiring and motivating so many young people.

Student Support

In 2013 we transferred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support from the Koori Centre to the Student Support Services and created the STaR team. The team has delivered an impressive result in 2013 with a 40% increase in access to tutorial support and a 160% increase in student contacts.

Research

In 2013, colleagues showcased to range of federal agencies in Canberra the research being undertaken by the University. We showed how our research, studies that specifically focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues and broader research has high translation value in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public policy settings.

As we embark on a new year of challenge and possibility, I would to again thank the University community and acknowledge your commitment, drive and dedication in efforts to realise the objectives of the Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu strategy.

My colleagues in the portfolio have enjoyed joining you in the hard work of 2013 and together we should look forward to 2014 as a year of much promise.

Professor Shane Houston

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services)