Tamika Baulch

Tamika Baulch

BT(Secondary)/BA(History) (ACU), GradCertHRM (RMIT), MHRM (RMIT)

Tamika Baulch is a proud Gulidjan woman of the Colac region in Western Victoria. She grew up on Wathaurong (Wadda Wurrang) land and currently works on Wurundjeri; both of the Kulin nation.

Tamika first came to ACU as a student, applying through our Jim-Baa-Yer Indigenous Higher Education Unit for a double major degree in Arts and Education, after one of her secondary teachers suggested she'd be a good teacher. Towards the end of her undergrad studies, Tamika wasn't sure a teaching career was for her and was considering graduate employment opportunities. "The National Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment called about the ACU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Graduate Program in Corporate Services. I'm so thankful for that phone call as it led me to applying for the position at ACU and creating an alternate career path," Tamika said.

Tamika started her ACU career as a Graduate Officer (Projects and Administration) at our Melbourne campus, working on three-month rotations through Student Administration and Human Resources.  After completing the Graduate Program, which provided her with foundation knowledge about university operations in student and staff focussed areas, Tamika was offered full-time employment in People and Capability. Her work has focussed on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment, and she has also sought opportunities to expand her knowledge and skills through taking on more generalist roles. Tamika's current position as an Organisational Development Officer involves implementing programs and initiatives that support the university's Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Framework and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Plan.

Tamika says, "I've always wanted to work in an area that could make a positive difference to other people's lives. My role contributes to increasing employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and creating an inclusive, welcoming and safe ACU for all. I believe this is especially important as a Tertiary Institution. Academics oversee teaching the future generation of students and influence society through their research. If we support staff in continuing to create a culturally safe workplace and classrooms, this can have a bigger flow on affect to the wider community."

Tamika aspires to develop and implement initiatives that will result in ACU being a better place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to work and study.  "I believe it's so important that we have representation across the entire workforce profile. Having more senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professional and academic staff would not only ensure our perspectives in decision making are heard, but it'd also lower the cultural load placed upon our current staff."

Christopher Duncan

Christopher Duncan

BEd (Secondary)/BA(Humanities) (Honours)

Christopher is "Wiradjuri by descent, born and bred on Dharug lands" in Western Sydney. He works primarily at the Mount Saint Mary Campus on the traditional lands of the Wangal peoples.

Christopher started his ACU journey as a student, achieving a Bachelor of Education (Secondary)/Bachelor of Arts (Humanities) (Honours) and is currently undertaking higher degree research (HDR) focused on enhancing supports for Indigenous students undertaking secondary education teacher training to improve completion rates.

"It is a cross-cultural study to see what we can learn from around the world to best support students through their degree."

His primary supervisor is Professor Rhonda Craven, Director of ACU's Institute for Positive Psychology and Education.

During his time at ACU, Christopher has held several roles, and now works as an Associate Lecturer (Indigenous) in the National School of Education. Christopher's work focuses on Indigenous education in both mainstream and ACU's Away from Base programs, and he is currently the Course Coordinator for the Bachelor of Education (Primary Away from Base).

Christopher is thankful for the support he's received to progress his studies and academic career at ACU, particularly from the Yalbalinga Indigenous Higher Education Unit at Strathfield.

"Being an alumni of ACU meant that I knew I was coming into a good space, being well supported and working with passionate people who love what they do. ACU significantly supported my studies and development as both an academic and as a professional more broadly. The best decision I ever made at ACU, which started it all off, was to walk into Yalbalinga in my first year."

Christopher aims to be a successful teaching and research academic, applying his research to increase the number of Indigenous Australian higher education graduates.

"I also aim to support our current students to achieve the best possible results, with a particular focus on our Away from Base students as their course coordinator, as I develop my leadership capacity" he said.

Christopher encourages others to consider studying or working at ACU.

"Without the support of ACU, especially Yalbalinga, I would not have had any of the above opportunities which have been formational in who I am today."

Jessica Russ-Smith

Dr Jessica Russ-Smith

BSW (Honours) (University of New South Wales), Grad. Cert. Wiradjuri Lang., Cult., and Herit. (Charles Sturt University)

Jessica (she/her) is a Wiradyuri Wambuul woman, a Smith and a McGuinness.

She commenced at ACU as a sessional academic in the School of Allied Health and is currently the Academic Developer of First Peoples Curriculum (Senior Lecturer) in the Centre for Education and Innovation, based at the Signadou Campus on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal Peoples. Her role supports embedding Indigenous Knowings, perspectives and teaching methodologies and pedagogies across curricula and developing the cultural capabilities of teaching staff.

Jessica is committed to building on the legacy of the sovereign Indigenous academics and community members that came before her.

"Our Indigenous knowledges, ways of knowing, and ways of learning are sacred. They are the foundation of our cultures, our sovereignty, and our very being. They have the power to transform the university and its curriculum, and to create a more just society for all."

"I am committed to working with Indigenous and non-Indigenous colleagues to create culturally safe curriculum and learning spaces where Indigenous students can thrive, and where non-Indigenous students can learn about and grow from Indigenous ways of knowing."

Jessica completed her PhD in 2023 and is appreciative of the support she received from her colleagues.

"My team and centre have greatly supported my professional development through conference attendance, training, workshops, community events and many opportunities to work collaboratively and nationally with colleagues".

Jessica has recently been elected by staff to represent them as an ACU Senator (Academic position).

"I am honoured to be in this role, and I am determined to use my time to make a difference for Indigenous staff, students and communities. I will advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples and centre our ways. I believe that ACU can learn from First Nations ways and become a leader in social justice."

Matthew Charet

Dr Matthew Charet

BA (Hons), MPhil, PhD (University of Sydney)

Matthew is the National Manager of Governance and is based at ACU's MacKillop Campus, situated on the traditional lands of the Cammeraygal peoples. He is also a proud Gamilaroi man whose mob comes from the northwest of NSW and south-western Queensland.

Matthew always felt and identified as First Peoples; however, he grew up without knowing who his mob were, as past generations had lost connection with family. Matthew's nanna passed herself off as having European heritage when she lived in Redfern in the 1930s and 1940s to escape the stigma of being a First Peoples woman. Matthew said discovering his Gamilaroi heritage was a game changer.

"A few years ago, an industrious uncle (our family historian) was able to unravel our family thread and demonstrate our connection to culture and country."

Matthew is still learning about his culture and says he is "on an exciting journey of self-discovery."

Matthew has worked in the higher education sector for 25 years. The last 15 years he has focused on governance, which led him to his current role at ACU. Matthew is responsible for coordinating the activities of ACU's senior governance committees, including the senate and academic board, and leads a team that manages ACU's policy library and a range of governance activities critical to the successful functioning of the university.

Matthew's favourite thing about working at ACU is the people.

"My colleagues in governance are all fantastic to work with, and my experience collaborating with staff in other parts of the uni has also been highly positive," he said.

Matthew is committed to leaving a lasting legacy at ACU by improving governance processes, committee support and policy management.

"Just as following the road rules helps prevent driving accidents, good governance and policies help ACU meet its obligations and stay out of trouble."

For anyone thinking of applying to work at ACU, Matthew says "go for it".

"ACU is a warm, supportive, aspirational place to work, with committed staff and a vision for the future that aims to transform the world. [It's] inspiring to work for a place that has such a mission."

Madelaine Sealey

Madelaine Sealey

Dev. Stud. (Res) (University of Melbourne), B. Int. Stu. (University of Canberra), B. Journalism

Madelaine is a Wurundjeri Woiwurrung woman who has mostly grown up on Ngunnawal Country in the Canberra region.

She is ACU's Indigenous Student Success Officer (Victoria) for the Jim-baa-yer Indigenous Higher Education Unit. She is based on the Naarm (Melbourne) campus situated on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri Peoples and visits the Aquinas Campus in Ballarat regularly, which is based on traditional lands of the Wadawurrung Peoples of the Kulin Nations.

Madelaine has been working in the higher education sector for over a decade and is passionate about supporting positive education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Through her experience, Madelaine wants to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into a diverse range of professions and disciplines.

"My current role allows me to contribute to a culturally safe and supportive university environment for First Nations students and staff, providing academic, pastoral and cultural support. This ensures First Peoples studying and working at ACU have a positive experience of the tertiary sector and are able to achieve their goals and aspirations."

Madelaine was a single mother-of-two when she commenced tertiary education as a 28-year-old mature-aged student. She was the second person from her immediate and extended family to undertake tertiary studies.

"University was a life-changing experience for me," Madelaine said.

"It allowed me to lift my small family out [of] difficult social and economic circumstances and helped me blossom into a more confident woman. It sparked my keen interest and passion in academic inquiry and inspired other family members to begin their own journey in tertiary education."

Madelaine has successfully completed postgraduate studies with a Master of Development Studies (Research).

"My supervisor was very flexible and allowed me to take study leave to attend classes and complete assessments. The university has generous study leave for ACU and First Nations staff which enabled me to successfully complete my master's research thesis. ACU has also been very supportive of my professional growth and development, providing mentoring and opportunities to develop new skills and pursue new opportunities within the workplace."

Madelaine's favourite thing about working at ACU is the people.

"ACU attracts some great people in both professional and academic roles due to its mission and ethos. ACU genuinely respects and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and its peoples and embraces diversity and difference. It also means I feel good about promoting ACU as a place of study to the Indigenous community."

Page last updated on 31/01/2024

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