As Chancellor of Griffith University, I am proud that this institution has a large and growing cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and alumni, whose achievements reach across every discipline—Arts, Education and Law, Sciences, Health and Business. I am pleased to see at our graduation ceremonies the visible markers of this success in the special stoles that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students wear, and the proud family celebrations that accompany their proceeding across the stage.
Griffith University was the first in Australia to create a Council of Elders—a model that has since been adopted elsewhere. The GUMURRII Student Support Unit works with and alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to build aspirations and greater access to higher education. Once students reach us, they are given personalised support throughout their learning journeys, and encouraged to achieve their potential at university and beyond.
The Indigenous Research Unit focuses on projects driven by the needs of the communities it serves. This work seeks to positively influence policy to improve socio-economic conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The University is committed to growing greater numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and Higher Degree Research students. Through its work, the newly established First Peoples Health Unit seeks to achieve Baugal baugulin yabruma, or better wellbeing.
Griffith University released its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2012, and has recently published its new RAP—effective from 2016-2018. It’s a blueprint for what we will do to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff and alumni across the span of our work. It’s ambitious and it’s vitally important.
Reconciliation is not overnight work. It takes time, it takes resources and it takes commitment. We recognise the important role universities have to play in achieving reconciliation through their core business of teaching and learning, research and community engagement. Thank you for joining us on this important journey for all Australians.
Mr Henry Smerdon AM DUniv