Reconciliation action plan a step forward
"THIS is only the initial step."
Those were the key words of USQ Student Services Team Leader Julie McKenzie as she introduced the University's Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to students at Springfield campus.
Community Advisory Group member Elder Wayne Fossey and USQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Mark Harvey joined Ms McKenzie as guest speakers at the recent RAP roadshow.
The roadshow was focused on promoting the plan by providing an overview of its goals.
Ms McKenzie has been working in development of the RAP since 2013 as part of the USQ RAP Working Group.
She has been on an interesting journey of learning, coming to understand the idea of Reconciliation and the importance of it in her work at USQ.
"We wanted a broad representation of both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians on our working group," Ms McKenzie said.
"There's always ways we can improve and strategies to help us to be more proactive in giving students more knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and traditions."
The roadshow featured a performance from the Yugara Dance Troupe and an art exhibition at the USQ Springfield Library.
Ms McKenzie said for USQ to have such a well-thought-out Reconciliation plan was a real step in the right direction," she said.
"The RAP needs to keep progressing and moving forward with change.
"We will try as much as possible to ensure all the actions and targets that come out of the RAP are met ."
USQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Jan Thomas said the RAP was an important document, promising that it would not just stay on a shelf collecting dust.
"The RAP is a working document that not only acknowledges the truths of the past but looks to a better future based on opportunity, connectedness and empowerment," Professor Thomas said.
"Reconciliation is ultimately a contract between individuals involving mutual understanding and mutual respect.
"It is an acceptance of a way to move forward by walking together."
Important elements of the plan include:
- Engaging with communities to increase awareness about education and its benefits,
- Providing multiple pathways into higher education study,
- Improving educational and employment outcomes through personalised learning, and
- Undertaking research that is of relevance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and supporting the voices and stories of Australia's First Peoples being heard.