RMIT celebrated Reconciliation Week by launching its Reconciliation Action Plan and opening a new Indigenous garden on City campus.
The Reconciliation Action Plan (PDF 2.24MB 34p) (RAP) was developed to drive improved opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE said the RAP was an important milestone on a 25-year reconciliation journey that began with the establishment of the University’s Koorie Education Unit in 1992.
“The plan is a significant commitment by our University to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ education and, as a result, to their employment and lifelong outcomes,” he said.
The University developed the RAP in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, with the aim of promoting and strengthening relationships and respect between Indigenous people and other Australians.
“We are committed to creating an inclusive community of learners and thinkers, free from prejudice and discrimination,” he said.
The plan has six key focus areas:
- Governance, management and leadership
- Learning and teaching
- Ethical Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff participation and success
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student participation and success
- Community engagement
The launch featured a Welcome to Country from Uncle Colin Hunter and Aunty Carolyn Briggs.
Stacey Campton, Senior Manager of RMIT’s Ngarara Willim Centre, said the RAP aimed to promote and strengthen relationships and respect between Indigenous people and other Australians.
“Everyone at RMIT has a responsibility to reflect on and contribute towards reconciliation and what that means for our University,” she said.
As part of the celebrations, a new Indigenous garden Ngarara Place created with a focus on the seven seasons of the Kulin Nations was also opened.
Designed by award-winning Melbourne-based architecture and interior design firm Greenaway Architects, Ngarara Place draws on four key pillars – Connection to Country, Cultural Motifs, Contemporary Aboriginal Art, and Knowledge Exchange.
Created, designed and built by a mainly Indigenous team, this unique space includes an Indigenous themed courtyard area, amphitheatre-style seating and sculptural laser-cut smoke pit, and provides a space to host Indigenous ceremonies, gatherings and events.
It also features a striking, contemporary piece of artwork by Aboriginal digital artist Aroha Groves, installed vertically on Building 15, adjacent to the garden.
The initial idea for Ngarara Place came from the Ngarara Willim Centre – to build a visible presence and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, cultures and histories as connected among the lands of the Kulin Nations on which RMIT stands.
The University is also offering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs the chance to start their own business with a new scholarship.
The Indigenous Business Creation Scholarships will provide students with free training in the nationally accredited Certificate IV in Small Business Management at RMIT.
And while completing the six-month program, the students will be encouraged to apply for seed funding from the University’s New Enterprise Investment Fund or other funding, to help them find the capital to start their business.
National Reconciliation Week annually celebrates and builds relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
The dates that bookend the week are significant milestones in the reconciliation journey.
27 May marks the anniversary of Australia's most successful referendum. The 1967 referendum saw more than 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.
3 June commemorates the High Court of Australia's landmark Mabo decision in 1992, which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land. This recognition paved the way for land rights or Native Title.
Story: Louise Handran