NAIDOC Week: Deakin announces the establishment of the Vice-Chancellor’s Indigenous Advisory Council
Deakin University has made a historic step in embedding self-determination, accountability and a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the highest levels of the University.
This NAIDOC Week (4–11 July), the Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin and the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Strategy and Innovation Professor Mark Rose marked the establishment of the Vice-Chancellor’s Indigenous Advisory Council (VCIAC) with the handover of an artwork commissioned by the Office of Indigenous Strategy and Innovation. Painted by proud Wagiman man Nathan Patterson, the artwork is titled ‘Learning Together, Growing Together’ and represents Deakin’s mission to engage meaningfully with reconciliation and treaty-making processes, while providing exceptional learning, knowledge-sharing and research opportunities for First Nations peoples.
The Vice-Chancellor’s Indigenous Advisory Council
The VCIAC is comprised of First Nations voices from around Australia, with expertise from a range of backgrounds including education, justice, health and business. The Council will provide expert advice and consultation on a range of issues, and monitor the University’s progress on key strategic initiatives. The inaugural members appointed to the Council are:
- Aunty Dr Geraldine Atkinson (Bangerang/Wiradjuri), Co-Chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria
- Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney (Narungga), Professor in Aboriginal Education
- Angela Singh (Yorta Yorta), Regional Director in the Victorian Department of Education and Training
- Lionel Bamblett (Wiradjuri/Yorta Yorta/Bangerang), General Manager of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI)
- Antoinette Gentile (Wollithiga), Director of Policy and Engagement at Djirra
- Mick Coombes (Gamilaraay/Kamilaroi), Manager of Aboriginal Economic Development and Industry Engagement at the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
- Corrina Eccles (Wadawurrung), Manager Cultural Education, Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.
Deakin representatives will include the Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin, Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Innovation Professor Mark Rose (Gunditjmara), Director of the National Indigenous Knowledges, Education, Research and Innovation (NIKERI) Institute Professor Gabrielle Fletcher (Gundungurra), and a current student representative (to be confirmed).
This approach is consistent with the aims expressed through the Uluru Statement from the Heart for First Nations people to have an appropriate voice in decision-making that affects them. This expert panel of respected people from diverse backgrounds will provide such a voice.
What ‘Learning Together, Growing Together’ represents
Patterson’s artwork will hang in the Vice-Chancellor’s office as an enduring reminder of the importance of embedding and respecting First Nations’ voices and perspectives in everything the University does.
The artwork depicts Deakin as the central meeting place, anchored in the ‘present day’, with staff and students gathered around it. The other circles represent the past and future, building on Deakin’s rich legacy of engaging First Nations students through the NIKERI Institute (formerly the Institute of Koorie Education) and securing a high-quality educational experience that will continue to service our communities into the future. The coolamons up the top represent the gathering of knowledge, and the boomerangs represent students taking this knowledge back to their communities. The gum leaves represent connection to Country.
About NAIDOC Week
NAIDOC stands for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. NAIDOC Week is held each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
NAIDOC Week 2021 runs from 4–11 July. Find out more about the origins and history of NAIDOC Week.
Are you a budding young artist (or do you know one)? Help us celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture as part of this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations. Students aged five to 19 from around the country are invited to create an artwork that evokes this year’s NAIDOC Week theme: Heal Country! View the full competition details in our recent Deakin Life blog.
Banner image credit: ‘Learning Together, Growing Together’ by Wagiman man Nathan Patterson.
Image caption: Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education, Professor Liz Johnson, Indigenous Inclusion Coordinator Mr Tom Molyneux (Gunditjmara), Pro Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Strategy and Innovation Professor Mark Rose (Gunditimara), and Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin mark the milestone establishment of the VCIAC with the handover of an artwork painted by Nathan Patterson (Wagiman) at Waurn Ponds Campus.
Edited version of previously published article by Tom Molyneux, Indigenous Inclusion Coordinator at Deakin University.