Nganana Leadership, Spirituality and Cultural Study Tour

Image of Deputy Vice Chancellor Students Learning and Teaching Professor Anne Cummins.

A message from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Learning and Teaching) Professor Anne Cummins:

Dear colleagues,

This month I have asked Jane Ceolin - Director, First Peoples and Equity Pathways to write my piece. I think you will find it interesting as she will be sharing about the recent ‘Nganana’ - Leadership, Spirituality and Cultural study tour to Central Australia.

With every good wish

Professor Anne Cummins
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Learning & Teaching)

Nganana (Anangu word meaning, All of Us) -  Leadership, Spirituality and Cultural Study Tour

In November, a group of 22 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, accompanied by ACU staff, participated in the Leadership, Spirituality and Cultural Study Tour – 'Nganana' to Central Australia.

The aim of the tour was to deepen the students’ understanding of Aboriginal culture, Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Aboriginal Spirituality and the Mission of ACU and broaden their experience of leadership. Students were asked to reflect on and consider the connections between Leadership, Indigenous Spirituality and Culture Journey in the context of their studies, as community members and future professionals.  It was an extraordinary experience.

As part of the tour, the group explored the diverse Country of the Arrernte and Anangu peoples and, on most days experienced the beauty of early sunrises and sunsets against the majestic background of the ranges. The group was also physically challenged, taking on three to five hour hikes each day across rugged mountains and gorges at Kata Tjuta National Park and Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon) and traversing the base of Uluru.

Participants connected Indigenous Knowings through cultural and spiritual stories of place with recent Western knowledge sourced from anthropological and geological information.

The group also visited Alice Springs and Yulara and the remote Aboriginal Catholic community of Santa Teresa where each offered a different learning experience to all.

In conjunction with  exploring, students also participated in practical workshops including:

  • ‘Dadirri – Inner Deep Listening’ presented by Maddy Sealey - Jim-baa-yer Student Support Officer, based on the work of Elder Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann.
  • ‘Constructivist Listening’ led by Danielle Thomson - Portfolio Manager, Students Learning and Teaching.
  • The perception of Country through the eyes of Australian films, led by Jennifer Newman – ACU, Institute of Social Justice. Jennifer also introduced her research on ‘Constitutional Recognition’ which prompted interesting dinner discussions.

Attendees of the Nganana study tour.

Testimonial from an ACU student, Jade Kerr

“By participating in the Nganana tour, I have been inspired to do more with my life. Through learning about all of our different experiences of culture and identity, being able to practice culture, and sharing our hopes for the future of Australia.

This tour has truly been a life altering experience which has ignited a thirst within me. I have been inspired to learn more of Kamilaroi culture and have enrolled into language classes commencing in 2018. I am hoping to seek placement in a remote community for my Bachelor of Nursing degree, so that when I graduate I will know how to properly care for our mob and can give back and help close the gap in health care.

I also hope to pass on all that I have learnt to others, in particular my two younger brothers, and have arranged to take them on a ‘Back to Country’ tour in January 2018, which will conclude in Yulara.”

Thank you to all the staff and students who made this tour a success and I would also like to thank Father Harry Chan (Chaplain, Campus Ministry), Helen Murnane (Student Admission) and Tom Armstrong (Student Advocacy) who all shared and contributed to this extraordinary experience.

Wishing you all a pleasant holiday season.

Jane Ceolin

Director, First Peoples and Equity Pathways


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