Celebrating NAIDOC Week

Message from Provost Professor Belinda Tynan:

This week is NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week, a celebration of the history, cultures, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It is an annual opportunity for us to reflect on our relationships with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues and communities, and to consider how we are working towards reconciliation – both individually and as a university.

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – will resonate with all Australians. It calls for each of us to care for our waters and lands, the sacred sites and cultural heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to seek greater protections against exploitation, desecration, and destruction.

And beyond recognising the deep connection and interdependence we all share with nature, this week is a call for something that I believe is sorely needed for our country: a resolution of many of the historical injustices which affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

It’s a call for us have conversations; for us to listen to, and truly hear, the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – and to act by creating the reform necessary for true healing.

ACU is committed to such actions. As expressed in the ACU Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-2021, our university is committed to acknowledging and recognising our nation’s First Peoples, as well as working to influence change and make positive impacts in their communities

On that note, I wish to acknowledge our dedicated First Peoples staff. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, wisdom and warmth with our ACU community, and thank you for all you do to nurture our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through their time at ACU.

I would also like to share my delight at recently being a part of the selection panel for the Aunty Joan Hendriks Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leaders Scholarship.

This scholarship honours Aunty Joan Hendriks, an alumna of ACU and a distinguished Ngugi Elder of one of the three clan groups of the Quandamooka people of Moreton Bay, Queensland. Aunty Joan was acknowledged for her innovative spirit, leadership in community and her passion for lifelong learning. She was a constant advocate for the rights and education of Indigenous Australians, and she put enormous effort into promoting reconciliation and justice within the community.

The scholarship is one of the largest offered at ACU and I am proud of the support it will provide our students in memory of Aunty Joan. We will be announcing this year’s recipients soon – and I look forward to sharing their amazing stories with you.

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