The University of South Australia will today launch its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), strengthening its commitment to improving education and life opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
The RAP – developed by staff and students in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, organisations and communities – details a suite of actions the University will take across the broad areas of respect, relationships and opportunities.
UniSA is the first university in South Australia to launch its own RAP. The RAP has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, the national organisation promoting reconciliation between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the RAP offers a real opportunity to deepen the respect and relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other groups within the University.
“The Reconciliation Action Plan is a framework for cultural change; change that supports other projects that will deliver better opportunities and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students,” he says.
“It demonstrates support from the most senior levels of the University’s management and expresses our commitment to continue the work we have started and to track our progress against intentions, goals and achievements.”
Prof Lloyd says RAP goals the University will work to achieve before the end of 2014 include:
· Install an official Acknowledgement of Country on each campus to complement the existing reconciliation stones.
· Commission a Kaurna shield for ceremonial use at University graduations.
· Establish working relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professional organisations.
· Update the University’s Indigenous Employment Strategy to outline how the University will reach a two per cent Indigenous employment target.
· Plan an artwork produced by staff and students under the guidance of an Aboriginal artist.
By the end of the year, the RAP will be evaluated and updated, with a new set of goals for 2015.
The RAP continues UniSA’s commitment to justice and representation for Indigenous Australians through education – a key platform of the University’s 1991 founding charter.
In 1997, UniSA was the first university in Australia to make a formal commitment to reconciliation.
“Reconciliation is much more than a word; it is a culture and it is a culture that will be nurtured at the University of South Australia,” Prof Lloyd says.
“It is part of our ambition to become a University of Choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
“Now we have a plan that not only puts the power of education to work to improve the life opportunities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, but instils in everyone knowledge of the richness and vibrancy of Indigenous culture and history.”
The RAP will be formally launched at 3pm today (Thursday May 1) in the Bradley Forum, Level 5, Hawke Building, UniSA City West campus.
The launch will also feature the first public showing of the ‘Spirit of the Campus’ painting, commissioned for the RAP from the artist Rikurani last year, as well as a painting created by students and staff during Reconciliation Week 2013 which is based on the ‘Spirit of the Campus’.
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