Hi, and welcome to another update from the PVC, from me, Paul Gough. And this month, I have the wonderful Professor Robyn Healy with me, who is our Dean of School of Fashion Textiles. But here, she is wearing her Deputy PVC hat for Belonging, which is a terrific title. So, what is Belonging, Robyn?
Well, Belonging for me is about relationships, connections. Feeling a value to who you are and belonging to, whether it's a community, a discipline, a profession, a whole range of different things. So, it is a very personal thing, but it also is about hanging out with others. So, I like to premise belonging in that community, becoming part of a community, contributing to a community.
Mm. So, why is RMIT embracing Belonging in such a great way?
Well again, I think, there so many different ways we can belong. So, when you come to university, often that can be quite a frightening place. And one of the reasons it draws you here, is often your discipline, your program. And the first people you get to meet are your fellow students, which is really exciting. The people that are teaching you, a whole range. But often, that can be quite a confronting situation. So, just to start to get to know other people.
So, for me, belonging at the beginning is about forming your very first community. And it might be hanging out with people that like similar things, whether it's music or just going to a certain spot every day. So, you start to create relationships. Often, you have to work at those, so they don't necessarily come easily. So, in DSC, we look at ways of how we bring people together. And they can be easy ways of often you can do it through an event. But for me, a lot of it is through the learning and teaching.
So, what happens when we create networks within a classroom, within a school? Also, within a university. RMIT makes you feel like you belong, because you suddenly have these big arms around you, which is the university. So, that can actually be a really comforting thing, as well as something that might be a little bit scary at the start.
So, I think for me, and again, all the people in DSC and all the schools, is how we make connections to each other. We are not all the same, we shouldn't all be the same. In fact, the reason why you come here, is because we are all so different. But at the same time, it's a way of thinking, how do we then embrace that diversity? We mightn't all like doing it the same way. So, what are the ways we can think differently about that? So, I think, that's where for DSC we work at different ways of doing things.
So, how have you brought the staff along with you? You've got some great advocates in the professional, in the academic staff, but how do you bring them with you?
We've been really fortunate, because we've had two star advocates. We've had Rachel Wilson and Bronwyn Clarke who have actually done all the scholarship in the area. They publish really broadly in this area. But also, they started off with a project in their School of Media and Comm. And it's really-- they've set the benchmark for everybody. So, from there, we've also looked at place, in terms of where you actually are in the university. Whether it is place, somewhere like Brunswick campus, how we bring people around a place. Or somewhere like a built environment like The Capitol theatre.
So, I think, place is a way of bringing diversity of people together. So, rather than just looking at it in a disciplinary way, a place is where we can gather and cross disciplines. And I think, that is really powerful at RMIT. And sometimes, I think, we forget how fortunate we are to have such rich places with different histories. And again, where we can come together with different knowledges.
And what part do emblems and symbols and objects play in the Belonging project?
Well, belonging can be brought together in different ways. So, for instance, the School of Art use making. The idea of making something together. So, for Art, they actually worked with a Gunditjmara weaver from Warrnambool. Aunty Bronwyn Razem. They brought her together with a group of staff, students to actually come together to make-- to make artefacts. But not just for the sake of making something. It was through the making to get to know the different knowledges and understandings and think about reconciliation itself.
For them, it was also a way of, how do we take on some of the difficult questions? You know, it's all very easy to say, well, yes, we're working on reconciliation. But there's a lot of hard stuff we have to deal with. We have to really understand the history that has come before and also contemporary practice, what is happening now and what are we doing about understanding Indigenous culture, unceded land, so many different things. These are not necessarily easy things for people to take on board. You know, with 97% of the university being non-Indigenous, what do we need to do about that?
So, Art came up with Tripod, the Belonging dog, who I now introduced to everybody. Hello, Tripod. And this is seen as a way for when you are having a difficult conversation, that you can actually use the dog to actually mark out that there is something that is quite difficult for you to go through. And, I think, this is where everybody-- everybody learns differently. And to me, to actually test this, this perhaps wouldn't work in other communities. This perhaps wouldn't work in other schools. But because you've got a very rich making culture within Art, this makes sense to people. So, a lot of belonging is making sense of stuff. And how you work through that together. So, I like the idea that, you know, the Belonging dog is quite crazy looking. You know, he has a sort of, hello, here I am. He invites you in. So, a lot about the projects in Belonging and in reconciliation is inclusiveness. How do we invite others in? Who are we not? Who is not present? And, I think, this is a very good example of inviting everybody in.
Thank you very much, Robyn. I feel so invited and I feel such a powerful advocacy in you and in hundreds of other people around Belonging. So, thank you very much for that.
And we will be back next month with another interview. See you then.
The following instructions will assist you to control the video player using the keyboard.
Starting and stopping the video
- Use the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination to navigate the video player controls.
- Navigate to the Play button using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to toggle between play and pause.
- Navigate to the closed captions button using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to open the closed captions menu.
- Navigate to the preferred close captions option using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to activate the close caption option.
- Navigate to the volume slider using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the left or right arrow to decrease and increase the volume.
- Navigate to the full screen button using the Tab or Shift + Tab keyboard combination.
- Press the Spacebar or Enter key to toggle between full screen video and normal size.