“Knowledge is power. If we’ve got the knowledge we can discuss anything we wish.”
Those were the words of University of Southern Queensland’s Elders and Valued Person Advisory group representative Uncle Ian Wheeler as the USQ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) was launched in Hervey Bay last week.
USQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Jan Thomas said the action plan, titled Walking Together, gave the University a roadmap to follow over the next three years.
“We’re walking the talk, turning thoughts and beliefs into actions,” Professor Thomas said.
“The plan gives us a focus on what we want to achieve as part of USQ’s commitment to support the reconciliation process between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.
“It is also a conscious commitment by USQ of moving forward, supporting the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in society as Australia’s First Peoples as we close the gap between our First Peoples and the broader community.
“The RAP is also about being accountable to our Indigenous community to reconcile the unfinished business and providing ongoing opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to access education and employment.”
USQ Fraser Coast Executive Manager Brett Langabeer said the launch also featured guest speakers Opening Doors Project Officer Tracey-Madonna Wylie and Indigenous Curriculum Lecturer Megan Cooper, as well as performances from local traditional dancers Travis Page, Ashleigh Clarke and Mark Page.
The RAP process has been guided by the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee and the Social Justice Strategy Board in collaboration with Reconciliation Australia, the Vice-Chancellor’s Elders and Valued Persons Advisory Board and USQ Fraser Coast’s BATEC – Buallum Jarl-Bah Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Committee.
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.
The event at the University’s campus in Hervey Bay followed an official launch at USQ Toowoomba last month and a similar celebration at USQ Springfield.
For more information, visit www.usq.edu.au/rap.
Photo: Traditional dancers (l-r) Ashleigh Clarke, Travis Page and Mark Page entertain the crowd at the USQ Reconciliation Action Plan launch in Hervey Bay.