Thinking about tomorrow: Wingara Mura implementation

12 July 2012

As the University of Sydney prepares for the start of Semester Two, so too starts our journey to implement Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu- a thinking path to make tomorrow. Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Shane Houston provides an update on our strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education, research and engagement.

After the successful launch of Wingara Mura at the end of Semester One, the University community is excited about shaping a new contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education. Implementation will engage many areas across the University.

Over the coming four months, we will be thinking through current activities and priorities and the commitments and expectations outlined in Wingara Mura.

Our faculty deans have agreed to sponsor the development of 'local implementation plans' within their faculties. These plans are due to be completed by November. The University is also putting in place priority whole-of-University initiatives. Together these efforts will form a consolidated approach to 2013.

Implementation will change some things we do and how we do them. Change can be a challenge. Accurate information is a key to successful change. Contrary to some speculation, the University is not doing away with any of the Koori Centre's current functions, staff and programs. We are revamping its structure, transforming it so we are best placed to deal with the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education. We are currently talking with Koori Centre staff about this and their roles in helping the University expand its engagement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies.

Sydney should be known not just for the valuable contribution of one centre in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, but 16. Each faculty should be known nationally and internationally as a recognised leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, and part of a growing and vibrant network in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies at the University.

Some early implementation work has commenced. Recently, our Cultural Competence Journey training package was trialled with a view to implementing it in 2012/13. The Academic Board recently approved the Pemulwuy Pathway to Sydney, a comprehensive assessment process that will improve access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study at the University.

Debra Reid has recently joined us to build a Trust and Engagement Plan for our University. This plan will develop effective strategies to promote greater levels of trust and engagement between the University and Aboriginal communities, civil society, and governments and industry.

Following its successful Indigenous Engineering Summer School in January 2012, the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies recently held the inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engineering Workshop. Both events drew praise from participants and parents alike. One parent told the faculty that since joining these programs her son is more outgoing, has taken on mentoring younger students and has become highly focused on his goal of gaining entry to study engineering at Sydney. Another parent has said that her son's experience has placed Sydney at the top of his list and that his experience has inspired his brother to apply to Sydney. The faculty's efforts have made a difference and are just a small sample of the thinking and work already underway in 2012.

The University has started the implementation journey. The development of local implementation plans will require intensive work over coming months, and we are committed to making Wingara Mura a success. Our commitments and efforts are already drawing recognition from many quarters: federal Tertiary Education Minister Senator Chris Evans recently praised us as leading the way. Many have helped us get this far and as implementation rolls out more will have an opportunity to get involved in building our success.

If you would like to contribute to the development of implementation plans in your area of the University, please contact Roni Roberts, Director Operational Reform, on 02 9036 9183 or

Media enquiries: Andrew Potter 02 9351 4138, 0414 998 521,